Published in Asian-mena Counsel: Dispute Resolution Special Report 2019
Through open dialogue, BAC is developing the knowledge and expertise to become a leading arbitration hub among the international arbitration community.
As a leading arbitration institution in China, the Beijing Arbitration Commission / Beijing International Arbitration Center (BAC) has the responsibility to facilitate mutual understanding between Chinese arbitration professionals and their international counterparts, and makes every effort to safeguard the rules of commercial activities and protect the interests of practitioners and parties all over the world.
As part of this mission, the BAC has been providing insight into China’s arbitration system through events around the world since 2013, with summits on commercial dispute resolution in major international arbitration hubs including London, Paris, The Hague and Vienna. This year, for the first time, the BAC went to North America to host events in New York, San Francisco and Toronto.
The original and continuing intention of the summit series was to promote mutual exchange, understanding and trust between Chinese and foreign legal practitioners by establishing a platform for professional dialogue.
New York Summit
The 2019 New York Summit on Commercial Dispute Resolution in China, jointly hosted by the BAC, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution of American Arbitration Association (AAA-ICDR) and the New York International Arbitration Center (NYIAC), was successfully held on June 26, 2019.
In his opening address, Chen Fuyong, deputy secretary general of the BAC, expressed heartfelt thanks to the co-hosts and those who provided assistance and support to the summit, while Luis Martinez, vice-president of the AAA-ICDR and Rekha Rangachari, executive director of the NYIAC, fully affirmed the significance of the launch of the annual report by the BAC, mentioning that, China has a huge demand for international arbitration. This, on the one hand, is due to the steady growth of Chinese overseas investment, and on the other hand, benefits from the increasingly close economic cooperation between China and the world. The publication of the annual report provides a favourable platform for arbitration industry peers to strengthen exchanges, so that foreign practitioners can learn more about commercial arbitration in China, and get more familiar with the Chinese legal environment.
The event included sessions themed around international construction mega-projects in China, energy and investment in international arbitration, future trends in international arbitration, IP and entertainment international arbitration, and financial dispute resolution.
The closing address was delivered by Nigel Blackaby, US partner of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. He mentioned that dispute resolution has accompanied the development of human society since ancient times. In ancient China, justice minister Gao Yao asked a goat-shaped magical animal with a single horn called Xiezhi to indicate the guilty party. In midieval England, the disputing parties referred to the speed of eating of chickens they selected to decide who wins. Both approaches shared the similar original idea of arbitration, where the disputing parties choose to settle their dispute in a mutually agreed way. This idea has been inherited by the basic model of modern commercial arbitration — parties to the dispute select professionals to determine the cases, and are bound by the results of arbitration. Blackaby then fully acknowledged the rapid development of Chinese arbitration in recent years and the remarkable achievements of the BAC on the road to internationalisation. He said that the increasingly friendly arbitration environment has provided a strong guarantee for the enforcement of foreign-related arbitration awards. He believed that with the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese arbitration institutions will be trusted and selected by more and more international parties in the future. At last, he congratulated the event on its complete success.
San Francisco Summit
The 2019 San Francisco Summit on Commercial Dispute Resolution in China, jointly hosted by the BAC, the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) and the Silicon Valley Arbitration & Mediation Center (SVAMC), was successfully held on June 28, 2019.
At the beginning of the summit, Chen Fuyong delivered an opening address to express heartfelt thanks to the co-hosts and supporting organisations for their efforts and support in setting the agenda, inviting speakers and event promotion. He hoped that the attendees could fully participate in and enjoy the discussion at the summit, so as to better cope with challenges of the future and safeguard the stability of international trade and business rules based on the exchange of different views.
Chris Poole, president and CEO of JAMS, said that the discussions and exchanges at the summit would be of high practical significance in light of the promotion of international arbitration from a series of new legal policies, such as foreign lawyers being allowed to be engaged in international arbitrations in California, as well as the strong trade connection between China and California.
Based on his experience and observation in China, Gary Benton, founder of the SVAMC, said that China has grown significantly over the past 40 years from a manufacturing power to a leader in technology and innovation, and has made remarkable achievements in such areas as telecommunications, artificial intelligence and energy. Although China and the US are now facing some economic and trade problems, it is clear that these problems can be resolved through dialogue, and the BAC summit is just part of such dialogues. Finally, Benton said: “We don’t judge countries by their richest and their rulers, we judge a country by their people. China has a diverse, wonderful, rich culture, a culture that we can learn from. And that is what I hope we will be doing today and in the years ahead.”
In his opening address, Yang Yihang, commercial counsellor of the PRC Consulate-General in San Francisco, said that as the two largest economies in the world, the economic and trade relations between China and the US are very important said that the two countries can keep strengthening their dialogues and win-win cooperation, and that the Commercial Office of the Consulate-General will continue providing service and support to the economic and trade exchanges.
The five panel discussions included sessions on innovative practice and guiding policy in commercial arbitration and mediation, new trends of resolving technology and patent-related disputes, the impact of regulatory changes on entertainment sector in the PRC, restructuring in China’s capital markets and selected issues of energy and construction dispute resolution.
The closing speech of the San Francisco Summit was delivered by Cedric Chao, founder of Chao ADR and former head of the international arbitration practice at DLA Piper. Looking back at snapshots in time from the 1980s to now, Chao shared what he has seen as the growth of the Chinese legal system out of nothing and its rise on the international stage. Chao concluded by saying that he expected everyone at the summit could continue to strengthen exchanges, clear up misunderstandings, grow together and jointly meet the challenges of the future.
BAC’s 2019 Toronto Summit was hosted on June 24, 2019 in cooperation with Arbitration Place and ADR Chambers, and was designed to strengthen the ties between dispute resolution communities in China and Toronto, with prestigious speakers from China coming to Toronto to share with Canadian dispute resolution practitioners their insight on new trends and challenges in a wide range of fields of commercial dispute resolution in China, including commercial arbitration, commercial mediation, construction, energy, investment, finance, intellectual property and entertainment. Along with the visiting Chinese speakers, the summit featured leading Canadian arbitration practitioners.
At the summit, BAC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arbitration Place, which operates Canada’s premier arbitration hearing facilities in Toronto and Ottawa, reflecting the parties’ joint dedication to cooperate, and to assist in the better understanding, development and promotion of each others’ services and the use of commercial dispute resolution both generally and between Chinese parties and/or Canadian parties.
Under the terms of co-operation set out in the MoU, Arbitration Place and BAC, when appropriate and subject to special arrangements, will provide facilities and services for arbitrations being heard in Canada or in Beijing, provide facilities and services for the organisation of events in Canada or in Beijing, and may, when appropriate, consult the other for assistance in recommending arbitrators or other neutrals.
An effective system to solve international commercial disputes plays a key role in the smooth running of international trade and commerce. By the end of the three summits, as Thomas Stipanowich, BAC arbitrator and law professor and associate dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, commented in his remarks: “We are all children of our own cultures,” we witnessed legal systems of different countries that are deeply characterised by different cultures and legal traditions. Meanwhile, through dialogue, we are delighted to find more similarities and consistency in such different legal systems. The dialogues between China and the world will continue, and so will the exploration and practice of the BAC. You are welcome to pay attention to and participate in the 2019 Asia Summit on Commercial Dispute Resolution in China that is to be held in this October in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.