In 2017, the key developments for arbitration in mainland China were the issuance of three documents by the Supreme People’s Court, addressing the judicial review process for domestic and foreign-related arbitrations. The three documents were the Notice Concerning Some Questions Regarding the Centralised Handling of Judicial Review of Arbitration Cases (the 2017 Notice), the Provision of the SPC on Application for Approval of the Arbitration Cases that are Subject to Judicial Review (Provision No. 21) and the Provision of the SPC on Certain Issues Related to the Conduct of Judicial Review of Arbitration (Provision No. 22).

Given that the mainland Chinese arbitration law has not been amended since 1995, the documents issued by the Supreme People’s Court over the years have been important in clarifying the questions that have arisen. The documents issued in 2017 aim to: centralise the handling of cases subject to judicial review, clarify when cases can be submitted to judicial review, extend the pre-reporting procedure to include domestic arbitrations and clarify how the courts determine the law of international arbitration agreements.

Centralised handling of arbitration cases subject to judicial review

The 2017 Notice provides that all arbitration cases that are subject to judicial review be referred to specialised divisions responsible for handling foreign-related commercial cases. The aim of the 2017 Notice is to encourage uniform decision making for all arbitration matters, whether domestic or foreign-related, put before the courts. Previously, almost all civil-related divisions of mainland courts could conduct judicial reviews of domestic arbitration matters.

Apr-Jun 2018 issue

Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre