Established in 1983 as the first arbitration institution in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macau Greater Bay Area, the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (also known as the South China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Greater Bay Area International Arbitration Center, or Shenzhen Arbitration Commission, hereinafter the “SCIA”) is an arbitration institution that aims to resolve contract disputes, investment disputes and other property rights disputes among individuals, legal entities and other institutions from China and overseas. So far, its arbitration and mediation services have been extended to more than 137 countries and regions worldwide.
Corporate governance structure
On 26 August 2020, the Sixth People’s Congress of the Shenzhen Municipality approved the Ordinance on the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration, which included the statutory body governance mechanism. According to the Ordinance, the SCIA has a corporate governance structure, with an international council serving as the decision body, which ensures openness, transparency and independence. Currently, 7 out of the 13 council members are from overseas jurisdictions.
The Ordinance made the SCIA the first arbitration institution in China to be regulated by legislation and helps the SCIA to build an independent, impartial and innovative international arbitration institution.
International panel of arbitrators
The SCIA is the first arbitration institution in mainland China to include foreign professionals on its panel of arbitrators. The current 1,547-member panel of arbitrators covers 114 countries and regions, among which 151 are from Hong Kong SAR, 18 are from Macau SAR, 17 are from Taiwan region and 383 are from foreign countries, accounting for more than 36.78% of the total.
Advanced arbitration rules
The SCIA has been continuously innovating its rules. The latest version of the SCIA Arbitration Rules has been in effect since 21 February 2019 (amended in 2022). The SCIA also:
- took the lead in accepting investor-state dispute arbitration in China;
- formulated the SCIA. Guidelines for the Administration of Arbitration under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules;
- first explored the optional appellate arbitration procedure in China; and
- formulated the SCIA Guidelines for the Optional Appellate Arbitration Procedure, which were recommended by GAR on 3 January 2019.
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The SCIA closely cooperates with numerous international organisations, such as UNCITRAL, ICSID and the ICC International Court of Arbitration, as well as many well-known international arbitration institutions.
The SCIA co-established the China-Africa Joint Arbitration Centre with other key arbitration institutions in China and Africa. It offers comprehensive procedural administration services, such as arbitration, expert review, mediation and reconciliation to resolve trade disputes between China and Africa.
In 2019, the SCIA established an international arbitration institution in Hong Kong SAR under the laws of Hong Kong SAR: the South China International Arbitration Center (HK) (SCIAHK). In 2022, SCIAHK published its first set of arbitration rules for arbitration cases administered by the SCIAHK which came into force on 1 May 2022.
In 2021, the SCIA established three arbitration sub-centres focusing on the fields of securities arbitration, intellectual property arbitration, and maritime arbitration.
Facilities and services
The SCIA launched its new headquarters, the SCIA Tower, in the Qianhai FTZ of Shenzhen in 2021. The new headquarters have 8 floors and a total area of more than 20,000 square meters. It specially designed 18 hearing rooms and multipurpose conference rooms with cutting-edge features, such as videoconferencing facilities, high-speed wireless internet, a multilingual automated translation system, complete recording devices and security equipment, among other things.
Online arbitration services are available 24 hours a day. In 2021, 7,887 cases are received online1. Among them, 883 cases are heard online, and 40,524 delivery times have been completed through the SCIA Online Case Management System.