July 28, 2006
MOFCOM bashes Chinese lawyers representing foreigners
MOFCOM's recently promulgated Rules on Responding to Antidumping Actions Against Exported Products (出口产品反倾销案件应诉规定) state (Art. 15) that lawyers or law firms who have assisted foreign firms in antidumping actions against Chinese products may not for the next three years represent Chinese firms in antidumping actions brought against them:
反倾销案件立案前 3 年内曾代理过调查国或地区企业,申请发起针对中国产品的贸易救济措施调查的律师和律师事务所不得参加律师竞聘。行业组织应将在代理行为中曾严重影响或损害我企业、行业利益的律师和律师事务所通知应诉企业。
An experienced foreign lawyer in Beijing had the following comment to me: "These regulations express the for us or against us mentality that is known to exist in MOFCOM." They can only be called an effort to punish Chinese lawyers for doing what is neither illegal nor unethical. But MOFCOM does not regulate the practice of law. If neither the All-China Lawyers Association nor the Ministry of Justice sees anything wrong with representing foreigners in these cases, who is MOFCOM to say such work should be punishable by the loss of other business?
Actually, I wonder how these regulations can be enforced. If a Chinese respondent wants to hire a particular Chinese firm to help it in an antidumping case abroad, how can MOFCOM prevent it?
Thanks to my former student Ma Jin for bringing these regulations to my attention.
July 25, 2006
Second issue of China Law Reporter now available
The second issue of the China Law Reporter, the newsletter of the China Committee of the ABA's Section on International Law, is now available in PDF format here.
July 24, 2006
CECC hearings on China's commitments in financial services (2)
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China's hearing entitled "China's WTO Financial Services Commitments: A Commercial Rule of Law Assessment," which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, July 26 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., has been cancelled.
July 23, 2006
More on Hong Kong-Mainland China agreement on mutual enforcement of court judgments
In a follow-up post on the above agreement, the China Law Blog kindly endorses one of my comments in my earlier post on this, so let me return the favor by quoting the following practice tip, with which I completely agree:
I am of the view that in almost all cases, the best strategy for foreign companies doing business in China is to negotiate an arbitration provision. Two main reasons for this. One, arbitrators are usually more knowledgeable about international commercial disputes than the courts. Two, arbitration awards are generally much easier to enforce internationally than court judgments.
Indeed, I would add that arbitration awards - especially foreign arbitration awards from a signatory country to the New York Convention - are easier to enforce domestically in China than Chinese court judgments (at least as far as the applicable rules are concerned), since losers have fewer grounds for seeking relief. Under the Supreme People's Court's 1995 Notice on Issues Concerning the Handling by People's Courts of Matters Related to Arbitration Involving Foreign Interests and Foreign Arbitration (最高人民法院关于人民法院处理与涉外仲裁及外国仲裁事项有关问题的通知), a court decision not to enforce a domestic "foreign-related" arbitration award or an award from New York Convention country would ultimately have to be approved by the Supreme People's Court.
Note: There is an interesting drafting quirk in this rule, as there is in the relevant section of the Civil Procedure Law. The relevant language speaks not of a Chinese foreign-related arbitration award, but of an award issued by a Chinese institution for foreign-related arbitration (我国涉外仲裁机构裁决). In other words, the key is the issuer of the award, not the nature of the award itself. In 1995, this meant CIETAC and possibly the Maritime Arbitration Commission, at that time the only bodies that could hear foreign-related arbitration, so it made no difference. Since 1995, however, other arbitration bodies such as municipal arbitration commissions have achieved jurisdiction to hear foreign-related arbitration cases, and CIETAC can now hear non-foreign-related arbitration cases. Is an award issued by the Beijing Arbitration Commission in arbitration between a foreign entity and a Chinese entity subject to the rule? It would be a stretch to call the BAC an "institution for foreign-related arbitration". Comments based on actual experience welcome.