Publish time: 2019-10-29 Contributor:Chenxi Lin
On October 15, 2019, the 2019 Singapore Summit on Commercial Dispute Resolution in China (the “Singapore Summit”) jointly hosted by the Beijing Arbitration Commission / Beijing International Arbitration Center (the “BAC”) and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (the “SIAC”) and was successfully held at Marina Boulevard, Singapore. As the first stop of the 2019 BAC Commercial Dispute Resolution in China Asian roadshows, the Singapore Summit has attracted a number of professionals from law and business circles of Singapore and Southeast Asian countries.
This event was sponsored by Clifford Chance LLP, Accuracy and the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (the “JAMS”). The International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), the Singapore International Mediation Centre (the “SIMC”), the Law Society of Singapore and LexPR also provided assistance and support to the event. As media partner, Global Arbitration Review (GAR), Wolters Kluwer were also engaged in the Singapore Summit.
Firstly, Ms. Lim Seok Hui, CEO of the SIAC, delivered an opening address. She pointed out that this summit was a start of the new SIAC-BAC partnership, and both institutions will have more in-depth cooperation, so as to better meet the needs of parties, especially those from the Belt and Road countries, for international arbitration services.
Ms. Lim Seok Hui
Next, Dr. Chen Fuyong, Deputy Secretary General of the BAC, delivered an opening address on behalf of the BAC. In his speech, Dr. Chen fondly recalled the cooperation and exchanges between the BAC and the SIAC since 2005. He believed that the BAC has fully benefited from the dividend of the Chinese economic growth and has become a leading arbitration institution in China with international influence, and so it has the responsibility to build a platform for exchange and dialogue between Chinese arbitration practitioners and their foreign partners, which is also expected to attract more professionals to participate in the Chinese arbitration development. Meanwhile, Dr. Chen gave heartfelt thanks to the joint organizer, the venue sponsor and those who provided assistance and support to the event.
Dr. Chen Fuyong
Mr. Ng How Yue, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Law of Singapore, then delivered a keynote speech. He thought that Asia has become the global economic growth engine in recent years, and this has resulted in the ever-increasing cross-border disputes that arise from complex projects and involve multiple parties, which will promote a tremendous growth of legal service requirements in Asia. This requires that legal practitioners from different jurisdictions in Asia must strengthen their exchanges and coordination so as to serve the needs of businesses. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BAC, the SIAC and the SIMC is a perfect example of Singapore-China joint promotion of arbitration and mediation and joint improvement of legal service levels.
Mr. Ng How Yue
Witnessed by Ms. Gloria Lim, Director of Legal Industry Division of Ministry of Law of Singapore, and Mr. Zhang Xumin, Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, the BAC signed MOUs with the SIAC and the SIMC respectively.
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Subsequently, the panel discussions of the Singapore Summit convened, including five sessions, on arbitration and mediation (Innovative Practice and Guiding Policy in PRC’s Commercial Arbitration and Mediation: Balance between Market and Law), finance and investment (Restructuring in the Capital Market of PRC: Addressing the Global Change and New Economic Environment), investment arbitration (Reform of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement System – An Asian Perspective), construction dispute resolution (Public Supervision and De-administration on Construction Projects in PRC: Quality, Efficiency, and Environment Protection), and energy dispute resolution (Analysis of 'Relinquish' and 'withdrawal' under International Oil and Gas Contracts), respectively.
The session on arbitration and mediation was moderated by Mr. Hee Theng Fong, Consultant of Eversheds Harry Elias. The keynote speakers Dr. Wang Xuehua, Partner of Beijing Huanzhong & Partners, and Ms. Yang Xueyu, Partner of Hui Zhong Law Firm, and the commentators Mr. Chuan Wee Meng, CEO of the SIMC, and Mr. Ranse Howell, Director of International Operations of JAMS, started from the commercial dispute resolution development in order to adapt to the constantly complex and diversified transaction structures and the multiple needs of the businesses, and had in-depth discussion on hotspots of dispute resolution industry such as the International Commercial Court and the “one-stop” dispute resolution mechanism established by the PRC Supreme People’s Court and the influence of the signing of the Singapore Convention on dispute resolution industry. As commented by Mr. Ranse Howell in his conclusion remarks, for dispute resolution practitioners from all over the world, the most important issue is to reach common views, seize the future opportunities, and practice diligently. In this regard, both Ms. Yang Xueyu and Mr. Chuan Wee Meng believed that cooperation and exchanges constitute significant impetus that promotes the development of international dispute resolution.
Mr. Hee Theng Fong
Dr. Wang Xuehua
Ms. Yang Xueyu
Mr. Chuan Wee Meng
Mr. Ranse Howell
Panelists of Session on Arbitration and Mediation
The session on finance and investment was moderated by Mr. Huang Xuhua, Head of China Practice of Allen & Gledhill. Dr. Tao Xiuming, Partner of JunZeJun Law Offices, and Mr. Bao Zhi, Partner of Baker McKenzie FenXun, acted as the keynote speakers, and Mr. Benjamin Hughes, Independent Arbitrator and Part-time Professor of National University of Singapore, and Mr. Daniel Koh, Partner of Eldan Law LLP, as commentators. Dr. Tao’s speech centered on the Chinese financial regulation in the “new normal” economy, especially the regulation of promised minimum investment income and rigid redemption. He introduced issues closely connected with the Chinese financial market during the past year, such as PRC courts’ attitude toward financial innovation and the relationship between judiciary and administrative regulation. Mr. Bao started his speech from the change of the legal environment, including the changes of measures and ideas of governmental regulation and the influence of the promulgation of PRC Foreign Investment Law. In particular, he provided an introduction to the audience about the determination on validity of investment agreements contain compliance defects in the Chinese law context, especially the criteria of invalidity and the way of adjudication on share repurchase clauses in the new economic environment. Then the panelists had a discussion on factors to be considered in selection of dispute resolution methods in financial and investment disputes. Dr. Tao and Mr. Bao also answered questions raised by commentators concerning the understanding of party autonomy by arbitral tribunals in mainland China in dealing with disputes arising from contracts that might be invalidated.
Mr. Huang Xuhua
Dr. Tao Xiuming
Mr. Bao Zhi
Mr. Benjamin Hughes
Mr. Daniel Koh
Panelists of Session on Finance and Investment
The third session was on investment arbitration, which was for the first time investment arbitration was focused in the BAC Commercial Dispute Resolution in China roadshows. The session was moderated by Dr. Romesh Weeramantry, Counsel of Clifford Chance Asia. The keynote speech was made by Dr. Chen Fuyong, and Ms. Wu Qian, Associate Counsel of SIAC, and Dr. Jean Ho, Associate Professor of Faculty of Law of National University of Singapore acted as commentators. Based on the documents submitted by the Chinese government to the UNCITRAL Work Group III, Dr. Chen presented an introduction of existing problems of investment arbitration such as the inconsistencies of arbitral awards, the lack of transparency of arbitral proceedings, the long duration, the high costs and the lack of independence and impartiality, as well as some reform explorations within the industry and the reform scheme and highlights of the BAC Investment Arbitration Rules released on October 1 2019, including the adoption of appeal system in order to strengthen arbitral awards’ correctness and consistency; transparency subtly improved with purpose of keeping a transparency-confidentiality balance; the efficiency enhanced and arbitration fees lowered; higher requirements for arbitrators’ qualifications and behaviors; the application to both institutional arbitration and ad hoc arbitration. Then the commentators had discussion and exchanges with Dr. Chen concerning the highlights of the BAC Investment Arbitration Rules.
Dr. Romesh Weeramantry
Dr. Chen Fuyong
Ms. Wu Qian
Dr. Jean Ho
Panelists of Session on Investment Arbitration
In the session on construction dispute resolution, Dr. Zhou Xianfeng, Partner of JunHe LLP, acted as the keynote speaker, Mr. Ng Kim Beng, Partner of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, the moderator and Mr. Samuel Widdowson, Director of Accuracy, the commentator. Starting with two significant reform measures within the construction industry, namely, the material reduction of the scope of construction projects subject to mandatory bidding and the cancellation of record filing system for construction contracts, Dr. Zhou introduced the deregulation efforts of the Chinese government and the influences thereof on practice. The panelists positively shared their practical experiences in different jurisdictions concerning Yin-Yang contracts, record filing system for construction contracts and so forth. As commented by Mr. Ng Kim Beng, in the area of construction that is of highly important influence on the whole society, the regulation of governmental authorities has always been careful in keeping the delicate balance between party autonomy and the protection of public interests.
Mr. Ng Kim Beng
Dr. Zhou Xianfeng
Mr. Samuel Widdowson
Panelists of Session on Construction Dispute Resolution
The session on energy dispute resolution was moderated by Mr. Benjamin Hughes. Mr. Zhang Weihua, Vice president & General Counsel of United Energy Group Limited, gave the keynote speech, and Mr. Lawrence Boo, Member of SIAC Court of Arbitration and Professor of National University of Singapore, provided comments. Mr. Zhang thought that due to the high risks of the oil and gas industry, a withdrawal mechanism must be arranged in international oil and gas contracts, which allows enterprises to, when certain circumstances are met, withdraw from the contracts. Mr. Lawrence Boo provided his comments on the influence of the withdrawal mechanism on other parties and how the interests of the withdrawing party and other parties could be balanced.
Mr. Benjamin Hughes
Mr. Zhang Weihua
Mr. Lawrence Boo
Panelists of Session on Energy Dispute Resolution
At last, Mr. Gregory Vijayendran SC, President of the Law Society of Singapore, delivered closing remarks for the Singapore Summit. He spoke highly of the significance of the MOUs entered into by the BAC, the SIAC and the SIMC to the legal circles of the two countries. He thought that the cooperation between institutions of the two countries could build a wider platform for legal practitioners of the two countries to have mutual exchanges and learnings with each other. Thereafter, he provided a conclusion of the Singapore Summit focused on mediation and dispute avoidance. He was of the view that the essence of dispute resolution industry lie in resolving disputes for the parties, and thus legal practitioners should be capable of selecting the most effective, the least costly and the most fitting method to resolve disputes on behalf of their parties from a number of options.
Mr. Gregory Vijayendran SC
Both the opening and the closing ceremonies of the Singapore Summit were moderated by Ms. Joan Lim Casanova, Counsel of Clifford Chance Asia.
Ms. Joan Lim Casanova
Speakers and staffs
This is the first time the BAC holds such event in Singapore. With the Belt and Road Initiative constantly deepened and the “Going Abroad” strategy continuously pushed forward, a growing number of Chinese enterprises walk to the world, and subsequently have closer ties with market subjects of the destination countries and then requirements for legal services. This has brought a new issue to the Chinese legal service industry: what role the Chinese legal service industry shall play in the progress of “Going Abroad” strategy. In this respect, it is the BAC’s opinion that the Chinese legal service industry should positively walk to destination countries and regions where major Chinese investments are made, establishing close and regular exchanges and cooperation with local legal service industries and deepening mutual understanding and trust therewith, so as to better serve the cross-border economic and trade cooperation. This is exactly the pursuit of the BAC Commercial Dispute Resolution in China roadshows in Asia.