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International commercial court has first hearing

By Cao Yin in Xi'an | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-30 09:22
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Judicial professionals applauded the first public hearing by a court established to hear international commercial disputes as a "landmark step" to showcase China's judiciary to the world and improve its global credibility.

The trial focuses on a shareholder dispute related to Red Bull, a popular energy drink that originated in Thailand, and opened on Wednesday at the No 2 International Commercial Court in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Ruoychai International Group Co from Thailand alleged it had entrusted 7 percent of equity of Red Bull to Inter-Biopharm Holding Limited. Ruoychai has now demanded the equity be transferred under its name.

The court did not give a ruling on Wednesday.

It was the first public hearing by the international commercial court of the Supreme People's Court since two such special courts were set up last year. The No 1 branch is located in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Shan Wenhua, president of Xi'an Jiaotong University's law school, said the trial was a landmark, "because it tells the public, including traders and investors from home and abroad, how the Chinese international commercial courts operate and whether a case can be solved efficiently here".

"The hearing and the two courts, I believe, play a role in helping our country improve its global credibility, especially after the central leadership promoted the Belt and Road Initiative and saw a rapid growth of foreign-related commercial disputes in recent years," said the professor who attended the trial.

Shen Sibao, a law professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the first trial showed the advantages of the Chinese international commercial courts.

"In our two courts, how to resolve disputes, whether through mediation, arbitration or litigation, depends on the litigants. Integrating the three different resolutions into one platform is our innovation to settle the BRI-related cases," said Shen, who also witnessed the first hearing.

"The trial on Wednesday came after one of the litigants gave up the mediation," he said, adding it is difficult to end disputes through two different resolutions in other countries' international commercial courts.

"Besides, litigants in our courts can obtain suggestions and ideas in mediation and arbitration from an international expert committee," he said.

The two courts were established in June after the central leadership approved a guideline on establishing the Belt and Road International Commercial Dispute Resolution Mechanism and Institution in January 2018.

In August, the top court disclosed names of the first group of 31 experts to the International Commercial Expert Committee, a think tank to help mediate, arbitrate and resolve the disputes.

Four months later, three guidelines on case procedures of the international commercial courts as well as on how the expert committee works, were issued by the top court.

As to why the first case was heard almost a year after the special courts were established, the top court said trial procedures and work mechanisms had to be established, as well as studies and looking at other countries.

In January it revealed that nine commercial disputes had been filed so far, mainly covering shareholder identification and the distribution of earnings, from countries such as Thailand, Japan and Italy.

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