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Exclusive Interview With SHIAC Foreign Arbitrator by Jiefang Daily

 

 

Jiefang Daily Monday  8 December 2014

 

How I Become An Arbitrator in Shanghai Free Trade Zone

 

   Narratives of An International Arbitrator

   By our reporter Wang Haiyan

  

    Peter is an international environmentalist.  Recently he wrote and sang an MV to promote environmental protection activities.  In the shot, Peter is vibrant and full of musicality and you cannot imagine that he has another identity – an international arbitrator.  With British and Australian dual nationality, Peter is one of over 600 arbitrators on the panel of Shanghai International Arbitration Center.  Peter had presided as chief arbitrator the first case of the Free Trade Zone Court of Arbitration.

 

    In many people’s eyes, arbitrators occupy a pretty mysterious professional role.  How they are selected on the panel? What principles they should adhere to in hearing a case? Let us chat with Peter, an international arbitrator, about his own experience.

 

   (Subtitle) This is where his professional experience comes to play.   

 

    Peter is a lawyer.  He has a Chinese name -孔宏德 (Kong Hongde), “You may call me老孔(Lao Kong)”  He is fluent in English, Chinese and Japanese.  While the reporter praised that he spoke very good Chinese, “Just so so, so far so good.” Peter smiled.

 

    Yet language skills are Peter’s unique advantage in becoming an international arbitrator.

 

    Nowdays, there is still a shortage of those with dual skills, that is, with expertise in both law and language in China.  Frequently, experienced lawyers with a lot of business experience lack of knowledge of the English language while young lawyers with fluent language skills have few matters under their own care.  Sometimes in court, you may see one side is represented by only one lawyer who speaks a foreign language and is familiar with legal business at the same time, while the other side may need three or four lawyers responsible for language interpretation and representation separately; further there are even fewer foreign lawyers who have a good knowledge of legal business and at the same time speak fluent Chinese.  Peter speaks Chinese and is an expert and has extensive experience in both the British and American legal systems and the Chinese legal system, and naturally is well positioned to be the best candidate as an international arbitrator. 

 

    Currently, there are 696 members of the panel of arbitrators of Shanghai International Arbitration Center, coming from 54 countries and regions, of which 255 are foreign arbitrators and arbitrators from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. 

 

 

    What foreign nationals could be selected on to “the panel of arbitrators”? According to Mr Wen Wanli, the Secretary General of Shanghai International Arbitration Center, arbitrators are selected taking into account their disciplines, ages, nationalities and other factors, fully considering their coverage in terms of geographic regions and business sectors.  With the constant mushrooming of new types of disputes, the professional qualification requirements of arbitrators are more and more demanding.  During the recent two years, the professionals from IT, financial sector, cultural sector, aviation industry and other new sectors are accounting for a larger proportion of disputes.  According to Mr Wen, foreign arbitrators’ participation in arbitration cases are not just meant to mitigate the barriers of language between the parties of different nations, but more importantly, to respect the laws and commercial business practices in different countries around the world.   

 

   There are generally two approaches in respect of application procedures.  One is that the Shanghai International Arbitration Center sends out an invitation, mainly targeting leading lawyers with prestige and influence in the legal sector; the other is that an announcement is made online and the potential applicants can make their application online.  With accumulated reputation in the legal sector, Peter received an invitation, but he was really humble , “I had been a merger & acquisition lawyer for many years and had pretty broad knowledge of legal issues in terms of contracts.  I studied the criteria for becoming an arbitrator carefully and believed that I satisfied the requirements.  Then I submitted my application according to the procedures.”  After the application is made, an applicant should pass the review and assessment of the arbitration qualification committee.  “The institute would review our professional background to see whether we are qualified.”

 

   In 2012, Peter was selected into the Panel of Arbitrators.  Upon receiving the appointment letter, he was really excited, “I felt that arbitration is where my accumulated experience could play a role.  That was great.”

 

   Specialization.  Peter currently is listed as having expertise in arbitration cases in the environmental protection sector, which coincides with his interest and hobby.  After becoming a panelist, Peter has further enhanced his study in this sector, “I have participated in various workshops and seminars focusing various arbitration business sectors.  You know, arbitrators have their own community and we have gathered together and shared experiences.  They are a group of really talented people and I have learnt a lot. ” 

    

 

   (Subtitle) I witnessed the Making of the Free Trade Zone Arbitration Rules.

 

    “Many foreigners have a jaundiced view of arbitration in China.  They still look at it with reference only to past experience.  I would be happy to tell them that now it is different.  Rest assured, the Free Trade Zone Arbitration Rules formulated by the Shanghai International Arbitration Center have addressed international standards. ”

 

    At this moment, Peter picked up The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Arbitration Rules, pointing that “These arbitration rules are at the cutting edge of rules both in China and even abroad and have been translated into 10 languages!  I am not flattering the Shanghai International Arbitration Center, I witnessed the process of the making of the rules! ”

 

    In the first half of the year, Peter participated in the formulation process of the Free Trade Zone Arbitration Rules, “Complete and full communications were made at every stage with reference to all material arbitration rules, both domestic and abroad, which is not an easy task”.

 

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