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Tackling Local Protectionism in Enforcing Foreign Arbitral Awards in China: An Empirical Study of the Supreme People's Court's Review Decisions,1995–2015

  • Wei Shen (a1) and Shu Shang (a2)

Abstract

In an effort to fight against local protectionism in court enforcement proceedings, China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) promulgated its “Notice on relevant issues pertaining to the people's court handling foreign and foreign-related arbitration” in 1995. Pursuant to this Notice, all Intermediate People's Courts have to report to the SPC and obtain its approval for any decision not to enforce a foreign or foreign-related arbitral award. However, the effectiveness of this internal reporting mechanism in constraining local protectionism has never been empirically tested. This study is based on 98 publicly available non-enforcement reply opinions rendered by the SPC after lower courts have made and reported preliminary non-enforcement decisions. It analyses whether these non-enforcement decisions show any pattern of local protectionism. Statistical results do not suggest that local protectionism is a major barrier hindering effective enforcement of foreign or foreign-related arbitral awards in China. We therefore contend that this internal reporting system may serve other functions by providing an alternative tool to reinforce judicial oversight in spite of China's weak appellant system. At the same time, the Chinese government seems to rely on this internal reporting system to achieve important policy goals. In this sense, analysing the functionality of this internal reporting system offers insights into this mechanism for top-level judicial control.

2017年12月,最高人民法院发布《最高人民法院关于仲裁司法审查案件报核问题的有关规定》,结束了我国对仲裁裁决司法审查程序适用超过二十年的“内外有别”双轨制。为了抵制和克服地方法院在涉外仲裁裁决执行程序中的地方保护主义,最高人民法院早在1995年就颁布了《关于人民法院处理与涉外仲裁及外国仲裁事项有关问题的通知》(以下简称《通知》)。按照《通知》的规定,待最高法院答复后,中级人民法院方可裁定不予执行涉外或外国仲裁裁决。然而,这种内部报告机制在约束地方保护主义方面的有效性还未能得到实际检测。本文基于通过公开渠道获取的98份最高人民法院不予执行复函的实证研究,探究这些不予执行裁定是否存在地方保护主义或者抑制地方保护主义的倾向。最高法院的复函是基于下级法院已经作出并逐级上报至最高法院请求批示的不予执行的初步裁定而作出的。尽管统计结果并未显示出地方保护主义是阻碍涉外或者外国仲裁裁决在我国得到有效执行的主要壁垒,但是这种内部报告机制可能还具有其他功能。例如,鉴于我国司法体系中不健全的上诉制度,它可以作为加强司法监督的一种手段;同时,政府也能通过利用该内部报告制度以实现重要的政治目标。在此层面上,剖析这种内部报告制度的功能,将有助于洞察在司法体制尚不完全独立的情形下,高级别司法控制是如何在中国发挥作用的;也有助于考察在当前司法改革的背景之下,集权化司法改革措施的有效性和不足之处。

Copyright

Corresponding author

Email: sshang@cpp.edu (corresponding author).

References

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