China’s new law on judicial assistance in criminal matters will impact investigations

The People’s Republic of China recently enacted a new law that will impact foreign authorities, corporations and individuals involved in overseas criminal enforcement actions. The Law on International Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters allows Chinese authorities to block requests for documents, testimony and assets requested in international criminal investigations.

The law introduces new procedures governing how and when assistance should be provided with approval from a “Chinese competent authority” (eg the National Supervisory Commission, the Supreme People’s Court, the People’s Procuratorate, Ministries of National and Public Security) required before a Chinese entity or individual provides assistance to a foreign body or person.

The law’s stated goal is simultaneously to curb corruption and stem extra-territorial claims by foreign authorities, some of whom approach Chinese counterparts/contacts direct for evidence. The law acts as a break on this practice and allows China to screen requests and withhold its consent. For jurisdictions where treaties are already in place (like the UK, US and 39 others), there may be little change as similar procedures already apply. But for jurisdictions without a treaty in place, or where informal practices have evolved in lieu of treaty provisions, this creates a new procedural hurdle in the context of criminal investigations. Continue reading

A new international Convention for the enforcement of mediated settlements

We are soon to have a new international regime for the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements.

The UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, which will be known as the Singapore Convention, was approved in June 2018 by UNCITRAL (the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law).  It is expected to be open for signature from 1 August 2019 and will come into force upon ratification by at least three contracting States.

The Convention will oblige contracting States (except in specified limited circumstances) to recognise international settlement agreements resulting from mediation in commercial disputes, either to enforce the agreement or allow it to be invoked as a defence to a claim (that is, either as a sword or a shield).

It is hoped that the Singapore Convention will achieve for mediation what the New York Convention has for international arbitration, encouraging a greater global acceptance of mediation as a credible and reliable dispute resolution mechanism in international commerce.

For more detail on the Convention, and commentary on how likely it is to achieve that aim, see the article by Jan O’Neill (Professional Support Lawyer, London) recently published on the Practical Law Dispute Resolution Blog, here.

 

Hong Kong Courts refuse challenge to recognise mainland judgment under the Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance

In the case of Wang Qian Wei v 郭文雨 & 郭小琼 [2018] HKCFI 2253, the 1st Defendant (a judgment debtor) opposed the Plaintiff’s (the judgment creditor) application to register a judgment of the Intermediate People’s Court of Xiamen (the Mainland Judgment) pursuant to the Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap 597) (the Ordinance). The 1st Defendant relied on three grounds of objections, all of which were dismissed by the Court of First Instance (the Court). Specifically, this case serves as a good reminder that (i) the Ordinance does not restrict applicants for the registration of a Mainland judgment to the original parties to any specified contracts only; and (ii) in the absence of expert evidence on foreign law, it is presumed that the laws of the foreign jurisdiction are the same as Hong Kong laws. Continue reading

Recent Developments in India-related International Arbitration

Herbert Smith Freehills has issued the latest edition of its Indian international arbitration e-bulletin.

In this issue we consider various court decisions, which cover issues such as the applicability of the Arbitration Amendment Act 2015, binding non-signatories to an award, enforcement of an award before the National Company Law Tribunal, and the continued pro-arbitration approach of the Indian courts. In other news, we consider the continued rise of institutional arbitration in India, a detailed analysis of the proposed amendments to the Arbitration Act, as well as India-related bilateral investment treaty news (and other developments).

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HONG KONG HIGH COURT PROVIDES GUIDANCE ON THE ENFORCEMENT OF MAINLAND JUDGMENTS IN HONG KONG

The Hong Kong Court of First Instance (“CFI“) recently handed down judgment in Export-Import Bank of China v Taifeng Textile Group Co. Ltd and Another [2018] HKCFI 1840, which concerns the enforcement of a Mainland judgment in Hong Kong. The CFI provided guidance on various aspects of the enforcement exercise which serves as useful practice reminders for practitioners. Continue reading

Delhi High Court agrees to enforce CIETAC arbitral award against Indian company despite CIETAC split

In its decision of 4 July 2018, the Delhi High Court (“Court“) has agreed to enforce a China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) award against an Indian company, despite the award debtor’s arguments that the dispute should have been referred to and administrated by the now independent Shanghai International Arbitration Centre (SHIAC), which until mid-2012 was the Shanghai Sub-Commission of CIETAC (“Shanghai Sub-Commission“). The Court’s decision is interesting not only in discussing the 2012 split of CIETAC, but also because it may provide some guidance on how Indian courts may, in future, deal with structural changes to other arbitral institutions, such as the very recent termination of the joint venture between LCIA and Mauritius (the LCIA-MIAC Arbitration Centre), or the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIETAC/SCIA) and the Shenzhen Arbitration Commission (SAC) merger at the beginning of 2018. Last but not least, this decision reinforces a pro-enforcement approach of Indian courts in relation to foreign arbitral awards.

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An international convention on the enforcement of mediated settlements – UNCITRAL moves one step closer

The UNCITRAL working group that has for several years now been considering the potential for an international enforcement regime for international mediation has now completed its work and produced draft instruments.

At its most recent meeting in New York, the UNCITRAL Working Group II (Dispute Settlement – formerly Arbitration and Conciliation) approved a draft convention and a draft amended Model Law on international settlement agreements resulting from mediation. Continue reading