New rules issued by the China International Economic Trade Arbitration Commission should improve its standing as an international player in dispute resolution and arbitration proceedings

Revised arbitration rules for the China International Economic Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) are expected to usher in a number of positive changes in China-based dispute resolution and arbitration proceedings. The new changes to the law reflect the increased complexity and the global nature of international arbitration and should help make CIETAC a more effective and prominent player in international contract disputes.

For parties whose disputes fall under the jurisdiction of CIETAC, the new rules, which came into effect on 1 May 2012, will, among other things, increase CIETAC’s flexibility to consider circumstances on a case-by-case basis, drop Chinese as the default language for arbitration and allow CIETAC to issue interim measures as necessary – all steps geared toward making the commission a more prominent force in arbitration and dispute resolution. The hope is that CIETAC’s popularity will rise among the business community, making it a more important international player.

Commercial arbitration plays a large role in dispute resolution in PRC-related contracts, particularly for cross-border businesses with a presence in China. An alternative to lengthy litigation and uncertainty surrounding the enforcement of court judgments in jurisdictions with different court systems, CIETAC remains an important forum for onshore arbitration proceedings in China.

Offshore arbitration is generally not recognised under PRC law unless the dispute is considered to be ‘foreignrelated’. As such, disputes involving a variable interest entity or a PRCincorporated subsidiary of a foreign enterprise may not qualify for arbitration outside the PRC. Wholly foreignowned enterprises such as China-based subsidiaries of foreign firms are unlikely to be considered ‘foreign-related’ as well for arbitration purposes.

Due to legal complications regarding the validity of offshore arbitration when Chinese entities are involved, companies with China-based subsidiaries such as NASDAQ-listed recruitment firm 51Job Inc, as well as internet conglomerates Baidu Inc and Youku Inc, explicitly require in their commercial agreements that disputes be arbitrated through CIETAC.

The 2012 Arbitration Rules introduce new amendments pertaining to the designation of the seat of arbitration where parties to a dispute have not previously agreed on the jurisdictions where arbitration proceedings should take place.

Under the new rules, CIETAC will be able to designate the seat of arbitration in cities outside the PRC, which would affect the current Chinese law governing the arbitration proceeding. Arbitration for domestic Chinese companies will remain within PRC borders due to the requirement that a dispute must be ‘foreign-related’ in order to be arbitrated outside mainland China.

In a move that could give CIETAC some legal weight on the international stage, the 2012 Arbitration Rules will allow arbitral tribunals to grant interim measures if necessary. A power traditionally reserved for PRC courts, the ability to grant such orders will assist arbitral tribunals in preserving disputed assets and evidence during proceedings. CIETAC arbitrations seated outside the PRC will be able to grant interim measures depending on whether the law of the seating jurisdictions permits such actions.

In an additional step to broaden CIETAC’s international appeal, the new rules eliminate Chinese as the default language for CIETAC arbitration if the parties fail to agree on a language. Under the 2012 Arbitration Rules, CIETAC will determine the language to be used in proceedings based on the individual circumstances of the dispute.

Some key aspects of the reforms, such as how responsive Chinese courts will be to CIETAC’s expanded powers, remain uncertain. If it is successful, however, the new legislation could go a long way toward building an international fan base and fostering CIETAC’s development as a major international arbitration institution.

 

Helen Chan Asia Pacific Legal Editor, Business Law Currents

The CIETAC Arbitration Rules (2012) came into effect from 1 May 2012. They are available online at: www.cietac.org/index. cms. This article was first published by Business Law Currents, a provider of legal analysis and news on governance, transactions and legal risk. For more information, please see http://currents. westlawbusiness.com.

Copyright: 2012 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

 

 

中國國際經濟貿易仲裁委員會發出新規則,日後委員會參與 爭議案件調解工作和仲裁程序時,國際地位可望更形重要。

中國國際經濟貿易仲裁委員會(仲裁 委員會)修訂仲裁規則,預料會為 國內的爭議調解工作和仲裁程序帶來正 面的改變。法規的修訂,反映國際仲裁 工作日趨複雜,性質日益全球化。規則 修訂後,應有助仲裁委員會在處理國際 合同爭議時,發揮更大的效力和更顯著 的作用。

新規則於2012年5月1日起生效。修訂涵 蓋多方面的內容,包括容許仲裁委員會 在處理權限以內的爭議案件時,可有彈 性按個別個案的需要考慮不同的情況, 不再以中文作為仲裁程序的當然語言, 並可按需要決定採取臨時措施。凡此種 種,均可使仲裁委員會在仲裁和爭議調 解工作上發揮更顯著的作用,希望仲裁 委員會更為商界所接受,在國際層面上 成為爭議調解工作的重要參與者。

與中國內地有關的合約,尤其是在中國 有業務的跨境企業,如產生合同爭議, 商業仲裁是十分重要的解決方法。當事人不必經過冗長的訴訟程序,也不必擔 憂在法院制度不同的地區可否強制執行 法院的判決;仲裁委員會仍是處理中國 國內仲裁個案的重要機構。

除非屬涉外爭議案件,否則中國法律一 般不承認離岸仲裁。因此,涉及可變利 益實體或涉及外國企業在中國所成立子 公司的爭議,可能不符合資格在中國境 外尋求仲裁。完全由外資擁有的企業, 例如外國企業以中國為基地的子公司, 在考慮仲裁地點時,同樣未必可能視為 涉外案件。

涉及中國企業的爭議案件,若選擇離岸 仲裁,其合法性將成疑。鑑於這些法律 問題,企業如有以中國為基地的子公 司,例如在納斯達克證券交易所上市 的招聘公司 51Job Inc、以及互聯網大 企業百度(Baidu Inc)和優酷(Youku Inc),在商業合約內均明文規定,如有 爭議,須經仲裁委員會仲裁。

針對爭議雙方事先對仲裁地未作約定的 情況,2012年的仲裁規則就指定仲裁地 一事提出了修訂。在新規則下,仲裁委 員會可指定在中國以外的城市進行仲 裁,這對現行有關仲裁程序的中國法律 有所影響。由於規定只有涉外爭議案件 才可在中國以外進行仲裁,國內公司的 仲裁程序仍只可在中國境內進行。

2012年的仲裁規則容許仲裁庭必要時決 定採取臨時措施。這將在國際層面提升 仲裁委員會的法律地位。這項權力,一向只限於中國法院所有;若仲裁庭也可 決定採取臨時措施,將有助在仲裁期間 保全有爭議的資產和證據。在仲裁地的 法律容許的情況下,仲裁委員會在中國 境外進行的仲裁,也可決定採取臨時措 施。

為進一步增強仲裁委員會的國際吸引 力,新規則規定,若爭議雙方未能協定 仲裁語言,仲裁程序不會以中文作為當 然語言。2012年的仲裁規則規定,仲裁 委員會將視案件的具體情形,確定仲裁 語言。

這次改革的影響尚未明朗,例如仲裁委 員會的權力擴大後,中國法院如何配 合,仍是未知之數。不過,假如新法規 推行成功,將大大有助提高國際層面對 仲裁委員會的支持,促進仲裁委員會發 展成為主要的國際仲裁機構。

 

陳曉樺, Business Law Currents 亞太區法律編輯

中國國際經濟貿易仲裁委員會規 則(2012版),於2012年5月1日 生效,條文內容可於網上查閱: www.cietac.org/index.cms。 本文原刊於Business Law Currents (http://currents.westlawbusiness. com)。該刊專門提供有關管治、交 易及法律風險的法律分析和最新消 息。

© 2012 Thomson Reuters 版權 所有。

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