There is little question that the quality of international arbitration in China has improved significantly over time. Rules have been updated to come into greater conformity with international best practices; the independence of arbitration commissions and tribunals has been strengthened; and the number of commissions seeking regularly to administer foreign-related arbitrations has increased, which may lead to greater competition – and along with it, further improvements and innovation – among such institutions.
The China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Centre (CIETAC) remains the largest administrator of foreign-related arbitrations in China. Of the more than 1,000 arbitrations CIETAC routinely administers each year, approximately one-third are foreign-related. It is therefore quite frequently the institution foreign parties first consider when selecting a Chinese arbitration commission to administer a potential arbitration.
Although there has been increased convergence of CIETAC’s arbitral practice with international norms, there remain notable differences between what could be considered the typical procedure before a CIETAC tribunal seated in China and that before a tribunal seated in, say, London, Paris or even Hong Kong, and governed by the rules of one of the other major international arbitration institutions.
The author, Lord Goldsmith QC, is chair of European and Asian litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton