CIETAC and sensitivity to procedural requirements

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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.

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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.

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The author, Lord Goldsmith QC, is chair of European and Asian litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton