In cognisance of the international nature of the disputes where parties might be domiciled outside China and in the interests of increasing efficiency the China International Commercial Court (CICC), was established on 29 June 2018.
It is a permanent organ of the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) and specifically designed to handle transnational commercial disputes, particularly disputes related to the Belt and Road Initiative. It is a superior court of law which shares the same judicial hierarchy as the SPC with judgments issued by the CICC being final and binding on parties and are not appealable. Parties may also apply to the CICC for enforcement of judgments and conciliation statements. There are currently 2 branches of the CICC with the first branch located in Shenzhen and the second in Xi’an.
Key Features of the CICC
One of the most prominent features of the CICC is that it promotes connectivity between litigation, mediation and arbitration through its provision of a one-stop dispute resolution platform. To complement the internationalisation of dispute resolution at the CICC, an International Commercial Expert Committee will be set up and certain international mediation and arbitration institutions will be selected to work in tandem with the new CICC courts.
Trial processes can be conducted electronically (such as, case registration, payment, review of files, exchange of evidence, service of process and even hearings can be conducted online). Further, evidence tendered at CICC hearings does not have to be notarized.
In addition, foreign law may be applied in proceedings at the CICC (subject to China’s rules of conflict of laws) and the proceedings may be conducted in English, provided that the parties agree. This provision provides some comfort and levels the playing ground for non-chinese speaking parties.
Jurisdiction of CICC
Generally, the CICC has jurisdiction over international commercial cases (either above the value of RMB300 million or have been deemed by the SPC to be of national significance). A dispute would be considered to be international if (a) either party is domiciled outside China; (b) the subject matter of the dispute is outside China; or (c) events affecting the commercial relationship occurred outside China.
Currently, the CICC is still at its infancy and the degree of foreign acceptance will be integral to the CICC’s success. Nonetheless, the establishment of the CICC with its progressive dispute resolution processes is a welcome step towards increased collaboration with Chinese entities and also offshore businesses in China.