Latest news | News archive

Latest news

SCIL / CAPLUS Symposium: International Investment Arbitration Across Asia

Conference summary by Erga Omnes

International Investment Arbitration Across Asia Conference

News archive

Report on the “2016 International Forum for Law School Students” by Stephen Ke


The International Forum for Law Students hosted by Renmin University of China Law School gathers graduate and undergraduate students from around the world to present research on law. As the representative of Sydney Law School, I was provided the special opportunity to present comparative research on Chinese and Australian law in Beijing, amongst presenters from twelve countries and sixteen law schools.

On the first day of the conference, the participants went sightseeing around Beijing. My first time there, the city was all I hoped it to be - bustling with trucks, smoke and people. We ate Peking duck, visited the Forbidden City and haphazardly navigated the subway network. The highlight of the day was a visit to the Great Wall of China. On a blazingly sunny afternoon, the participants enjoyed the scenic trek up the mountain range and walking along the majestic historic site. As we stumbled over the irregular steps, conversation turned to differences between our respective legal systems. As we scaled the steep incline, a particularly erudite participant gave me a crash course on German ecclesiastical law. On the cable car ride down from the wall, I was introduced to the arbitration system in France. It was exciting and bizarre to be in such a place conversing on complex and new concepts.

On the Great Wall

Proceedings began early in the morning of the next day, under the theme “Defending the Powerless from the Legal Perspective”. Presentations covered a truly diverse range of topics. Speakers drew attention to the law’s role in protecting consumers, employees, the environment, children, and other vulnerable groups. The countries we came from and their respective legal systems were distinctive and followed different doctrines. Despite this, there existed a common respect for the rule of law, eagerness to right injustices, and an understanding of the necessity to protect those who are unable to defend themselves. Strikingly, the concerns regarding legal reform being debated currently in Australia (such as domestic violence) were being echoed in many other jurisdictions.

The Renmin University of China Law School

In one particularly stirring speech, a presenter spoke of his own experiences adopting his child in the United States. The injustices he perceived in the process and the pressing need for reform had inspired him to study law and head a NGO that advocates on behalf of children during the adoption process. He encouraged all the participants to assist vulnerable persons, but also take an active role in changing the legal landscape.

My own presentation concerned differences between Chinese and Australian approaches to marine environmental protection. Due to overfishing, pollution, global warming and increasing trade flows, our seas are facing unprecedented stresses and degradation. My speech drew attention to issues of multi-level governance and inadequate enforcement of environment protections. My research highlighted that an appreciation of different legal and political systems is essential in finding global and multilateral answers to maritime issues.

On the final day of the conference, the attendees visited Anjie Law Firm and were provided with a tour of the office. The visit showcased the expanding field of intellectual property law, and the role of arbitrations in China.

It was an immense privilege to attend alongside many highly talented early researchers and distinguished professors. Although only spanning a few days, the conference has shown me that societies answer similar problems in diverse ways, and has inspired me to continue researching in the field. Importantly, the experience has shown me that the ends of social justice can gain much by learning from other jurisdictions. My hope is that conferences such as these only become more frequent and expansive, providing a dialogue across countries and enhancing legal reform.

I sincerely thank Professor Vivienne Bath, Professor Bing Ling, and Ms Xu Fei of Renmin University of China, and CAPLUS for providing me with this truly amazing experience.

Stephen is a final year law student, and interned at the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS) in Semester 1, 2016.

Social Justice In Action: My Time at the Courts of Cambodia by By Hannah Solomons (JD 2015)

Hannah Solomons (JD 2015) undertook an internship at the Courts of Cambodia, set up by the United Nations and the Cambodian government to try former Khmer Rouge for international crimes.
Read more

Report on the “2015 International Forum for Law School Students” by Catie Wang

2015 International Forum

Renmin University in Beijing China hosts an annual conference that provides a forum for law students from different countries to exchange ideas and thoughts on a specified theme.

The 2015 International Forum for Law School Students was held on 29 May to 1 June. This year’s theme is “the relationship of market in the perspective of law. Students from a diverse range of backgrounds were invited to give presentations: University of Sydney, University of Geneva, University of Cape Town, Oxford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, University of Vienna, Indiana University, Drexel University, Renmin University, Osaka University, Hitotsubashi University, Seoul National University, Korea University and National University of Mongolia.

Each student gave a presentation for approximately 20 minutes. Presentations were arranged into four sessions: Government Control in Different Industries; Government and Market Relations in Different Countries; Privacy, Equality, Crimes and Fairness; and Law and Economics. At the end of each session, a commentator, either a law professor or a practitioner from leading law firms, made concluding remarks followed by a 5 minutes Q&A from the audience.

There were a wide range of topics presented, including gender pay gap in Japan, protection of privacy in Europe, expropriation under the German constitution, consumer protection law in Switzerland, rent control in China, regulation of legal markets in East Asian countries, and regulation of drug development market in the United States. It is very interesting to learn from other jurisdictions about different mechanisms of regulating markets, challenges faced by the legislators, and problems associated with the regulations already implemented. And some comments are thought provoking, such as the comments made after the presentations about gender pay gap, which was whether the law should follow the social norm or define the social norm.

My presentation was delivered at the Law and Economics session. My topic was regulating trustees’ exculpatory clauses, which addressed the gap between the innovative use of trusts in financial services industry and the development of trust law.

The following day, Renmin University organized a visit to The Supreme People's Procuratorate. The office of procuratorate is an institution often used in inquisitorial system, responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes and corruption. We were given the opportunity to talk to the officers from different departments of the procuratorate office, and to experience the voting system used for the decision making process.

Renmin University covered the roundtrip airfare and the accommodation. It has also planned a range of activities to showcase the city of Beijing, including tours of the Great Wall and Hutong (alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences). Overall, I am grateful for having been nominated to represent Sydney Law School in this event by the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law (CAPLUS). It was an invaluable experience and a highlight of my study at Sydney Law School. I highly recommend to all law students to take advantage of this opportunity.

Catie Wang

On 24-25 May 2014, Sydney Law School student and current CAPLUS student intern Michael Power (5th year Commerce/Law) attended the 2nd Annual International Forum for Law School Students at Renmin University of China in Beijing. The forum was co-sponsored by Renmin Law School and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Michael reports on his experience here.

Photo of the attendees

Attendees of the 2nd Annual International Forum for Law School Students at
Renmin University of China in Beijing

On 18 March 2014, Herbert Smith Freehills hosted a book launch for Asia-Pacific Disaster Management: Socio-Legal and Comparative Perspectives, co-edited by Simon Butt and Luke Nottage (Sydney Law School) and Hitoshi Nasu (Australian National University, College of Law). The book was launched by The Hon Robert McClelland, former federal Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Services. Further details and purchasing information is available here.

Photo of the authors and dignitaries

From left: Adjunct Professor Don Robertson, Herbert Smith Freehills; Professor
Luke Nottage; The Hon Robert McClelland; Associate Professor Simon Butt; and
Dr Hitoshi Nasu

From 18-23 August 2013, Sydney Law School student Diana Hu attended the First China International Legal Elite Camp at Renmin University of China in Beijing. Diana found the camp to be very beneficial and provided the following testimonial:

"Needless to say, I highly recommend this opportunity for all law students who are interested in legal issues within the Asia-Pacific region, and especially if you have a passion for China’s complex and dynamic legal system. The Legal Elite Camp was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable experiences of my entire law degree".

Diana reports on her experience here.

On 20 June 2013, a delegation from the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE) School of Law visited Sydney Law School. The delegation of four visitors was headed by Professor Chen Jingying, Dean of Law at SUIBE. The delegation met with Professor Vivienne Bath and Professor Bing Ling to discuss possibilities of future cooperation between the two law schools in postgraduate programs and research.

The delegation from SUIBE with Professors Vivienne Bath and Bing Ling

The delegation from SUIBE with Professors Vivienne Bath and Bing Ling

Professor Bing Ling has joined Sydney Law School as Professor of Chinese Law from September 2012. Before coming to Australia, he was a professor and founding member of the Faculty of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Ling has also taught at Peking University Law School, University of Michigan Law School and City University of Hong Kong Law School. He received an LLB degree from Peking University in 1989 and an LLM degree from the University of Michigan in 1992. He was awarded a Diploma by the Hague Academy of International Law in 1995. Professor Ling is the author of books and articles on Chinese civil and commercial law and international law, including Contract Law in China (Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 2002). He was admitted to the Bar of PRC in 1990 and served as an expert witness on Chinese law questions in numerous international litigation and arbitration cases.
(Posted 3 September 2012)

Professor Lee Burns has been awarded grant funding totalling $305,045 under Round 11 of the Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) Fellowships program for the research project: Vietnam: Improving capacity in international tax enforcement.
(Posted 17 April 2012)

CAPLUS members have co-edited and partly authored a 13-chapter volume titled Foreign Investment and Dispute Resolution Law and Practice in Asia (Routledge, November 2011). The book was launched at Allens Arthur Robinson in Sydney on 22 March 2012 by Professor Michael Pryles AM, whose presentation is available as a videoclip available via YouTube or in Sydney Law School News.
Several chapters were presented at a major conference on investment treaty law and arbitration co-sponsored by CAPLUS at Sydney Law School in February 2010.

About the Book:
International investment, especially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), continues to burgeon across the fast-growing Asian region, despite the Asian Financial Crisis and the Global Financial Crisis a decade later, which have generated ongoing policy debates about FDI liberalisation. This book surveys the substantive law affecting FDI in Asia as well as dispute resolution law and practice, focusing especially on major capital exporting and importing countries in the region (Japan, China, India, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam). Another distinguishing feature of the book is the way it integrates comparative law studies of domestic legal systems with analyses of important emerging trends in international investment treaty law. With a preface from the President of the International Bar Association, the book brings together 13 chapters from a diverse group of senior and up-and-coming academics and practitioners expert in these fields. It provides an up-to-date and cohesive account of trends in foreign investment law and practice in Asia for legal practitioners, researchers and policy-makers, businesspeople and postgraduate or senior undergraduate law or business students.

On 21 March 2012, a delegation from the China Law Society visited the Law School to meet with CAPLUS members and other key University staff.

Scholarship opportunity – China-Australia Chamber of Commerce (AustCham Beijing)
The Australia-China Council and the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) offer an opportunity for Australian students to work and learn Mandarin in China. The AustCham China Scholarship is available to penultimate-year students and recent graduates who have a passion for starting their careers in China. There are 15 Graduate Scholarships available across a wide range of sectors with reputable Australian companies. Two of these positions are offered with Mallesons Stephen Jaques, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. In addition to the traineeship placement, successful candidates will also be given language training, access to the AustCham Mentorship program and sponsored to attend industry forums and events. Applications close Friday 15 July 2011 and further information on the program is available here and on the AustCham China website.

Scholarship opportunity – ACC AustCham (Australia-China) Young Leaders Scholarship Program
The ACC AustCham (Australia-China) Young Leaders program is a joint initiative of the China-Australia Chamber of Commerce Beijing (AustCham) and the Australia China Council (ACC). The scholarship was developed in response to Australia's growing economic, cultural and political relationship with China. The program is open to students who have demonstrated a commitment to strengthening Australia-China bilateral relations through academic and extra-curricular activities. Further information on the program is available here and the closing date for applications is 1 September 2010.

On 3 May 2010, CAPLUS, in association with the China Focus Group of the Law Council of Australia, held a seminar titled: 'China – Intellectual Property and Innovation: Law and Policy'. The speakers were Ms Li Li, Senior Legal Counsel (IPR) for the Hewlett-Packard Company in Shanghai, and former Deputy Chief Judge of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Tribunal of the Pudong New Area Court in Shanghai, and Professor Natalie Stoianoff, Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney.

Download the slides:

Photo of the speakers

Ms Li Li, Associate Professor Vivienne Bath and Professor Natalie Stoianoff

On 13-14 April 2010, a delegation from the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws (AIKOL) at the International Islamic University Malaysia visited the Law School to meet with the Dean and members of CAPLUS to discuss building relations between the two faculties and the possibility of developing joint courses. The members of the delegation were Professor Dr Mohd. Akram Shair Mohamed, Dean of AIKOL and Assistant Professor Dr Khairil Azmin Mokhtar, Head of Department (Public Law).

On 7 April 2010, a delegation from the Chinese Human Rights Foundation visited the Law School to meet with Associate Professors Vivienne Bath and Ben Saul.

On 22 March 2010, Associate Professor Vivienne Bath commented on the Stern Hu trial in an interview by Eleanor Hall on the ABC Radio current affairs program The World Today.

Read the transcript: China's legal system under the microscopeThe World Today (ABC Radio)
Listen to the audio: China's legal system under the microscopeThe World Today (ABC Radio)

Further related coverage:
On 27 March 2010, Vivienne Bath commented on the trial in the Herald Sun and the Courier Mail.

On 28 March 2010, Vivienne Bath published an article on the case on the East Asia Forum.
Read the article: The Chinese legal system and the Stern Hu caseEast Asia Forum

In 2009 the Beijing Arbitration Commission (BAC) invited students enrolled in the Shanghai Winter School to apply for an internship over the summer vacation period. Michael Dunmore, a third year Graduate Law student from Sydney Law School, was one of the successful candidates and worked with the BAC from 5 January to 26 February 2010. His report on his experience in China follows:

"I spent two months of my summer as an intern for the Beijing Arbitration Commission after participating in the Shanghai Winter School. Before beginning law at the University of Sydney I completed a Master of Criminology at the University of Sydney and a BA(H) in Criminology at the University of Windsor in Canada.

During my internship at the BAC, I was able to attend over twenty arbitrations and mediations; some of which included international parties. After all arbitrations the arbitrators were very eager to talk with me and they all encouraged me to ask questions about the arbitrations. Arbitrators discussed with me important points in the cases and their reasoning in how they would arrive at making an award.

I also conducted independent research on money laundering and other types of fraud in arbitrations. This research is going to be published in the forthcoming edition of Arbitration in Beijing. During my internship, I learned extensively about arbitration in China and greatly enjoyed working for the BAC. In addition to having a very positive experience working for the BAC, living in Beijing was also very enjoyable."

Michael Dunmore, Bird

Michael Dunmore in Beijing

Beijing Arbitration Commission building

The offices of the Beijing Arbitration Commission
(Posted 9 March 2010)

CAPLUS is currently advertising for a student intern to work with the Centre for Semester One, 2010. The position is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate Sydney Law School students. Applications close on Friday 12 March 2010.

Update: Applications have closed for Semester One.

The 2010 Kyoto and Tokyo Seminars in Japanese Law were held from 8-12 February and 15-18 February 2010 respectively. The program offers a unique opportunity to study Japanese Law in global and socio-economic context. The program aims to develop the general skills of comparative lawyers, to effectively and critically assess contemporary developments in the Japanese legal system. It is jointly organised by Sydney Law School and Ritsumeikan University School of Law in collaboration with the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL). A total of 18 students attended the Kyoto seminar and 26 students attended the Tokyo seminar in 2010.

The 2009 Shanghai Winter School was held from 22 November to 12 December 2009 at the East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) in Shanghai, China. The Winter School is an intensive three-week introduction to Chinese Law and provides students with an opportunity to study, on an intensive and introductory basis, the laws and legal system of China whilst experiencing life in that country. The program is jointly organised by Sydney Law School and ECUPL. A total of 54 students (39 undergraduate and 15 postgraduate) participated in the program in 2009.

On 20 October 2009, CAPLUS hosted a cocktail function and seminar with the NSW Branch of the Australia Indonesia Business Council (AIBC). The speaker was Rod Morehouse, Senior Trade Commissioner, ASEAN, Australian Embassy Jakarta. The October edition of the AIBC News is available here.

On 10 July 2009, Vivienne Bath was interviewed by Lateline on the ABC regarding Stern Hu's arrest.

Read the transcript: Frustration over China's arrest of mining execLateline (ABC Television)
Watch the video: Frustration over China's arrest of mining execLateline (ABC Television)

On 9 July 2009, Vivienne Bath was interviewed by The 7.30 Report on the ABC regarding the arrest of Stern Hu, the general manager of Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in China.

Read the transcript: Australian's arrest in China sparks fierce political debateThe 7.30 Report (ABC Television)
Watch the video: Australian's arrest in China sparks fierce political debateThe 7.30 Report (ABC Television)

Dr Luke Nottage has also commented on the case on his blog on Japanese Law and the Asia-Pacific.

On 7 July 2009, CAPLUS, in association with the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), held a seminar titled: 'Social Instability in China: Governance, Uncertainty and Rights in Contemporary China – Between Rigid and Resilient Stability'. The speaker was Professor David Kelly, Professor of China Studies at the China Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney.

CAPLUS/AIIA seminar jpeg

Stephen FitzGerald (AIIA), Professor David Kelly and Vivienne Bath (CAPLUS)

On 18 June 2009, Professor Gillian Triggs, Dean of Sydney Law School, invited guests to join Vivienne Bath, Robin Burnett, Luke Nottage and Kent Anderson to celebrate the launch of their new books. The books were Law of International Business in Australasia by Robin Burnett and Vivienne Bath, and Corporate Governance in the 21st Century: Japan's Gradual Transformation edited by Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff and Kent Anderson. The books were launched by The Honourable James Spigelman AC, Chief Justice of NSW. A copy of Chief Justice Spigelman's address is available here.

Book launch jpeg

Vivienne Bath, Kent Anderson, Luke Nottage, Wan Sang Lung and Geread Dooley

Book launch jpeg 2

The Honourable James Spigelman AC, Chief Justice of NSW and Professor Jennifer Hill, Sydney Law School

CAPLUS offers one internship position to Sydney Law School students in each semester of the academic year and is now calling for applications for the internship position in Semester Two, 2009. Both undergraduate and postgraduate Sydney law students are encouraged to apply. Interns must be available to work one day per week for the duration of one semester. Interns are involved in the full range of the Centre's activities, including research, hosting public seminars and conferences, organising the Shanghai and Kyoto Winter Schools, drafting policy submissions and so on. There are also some administrative duties. Interns report to the Centre Director and will work closely with the director, the administrator and the associates of the Centre. Interns interested in Japan may also be invited to work with the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL) on projects agreed with CAPLUS. Applications close on Friday 3 July 2009. Further information is available here.
(Posted 17 June 2009)

A new book by Vivienne Bath (with co-author Robin Burnett) titled Law of International Business in Australasia was recently published by Federation Press. The book provides a comprehensive discussion of the international and domestic law regime in Australia and New Zealand relating to international business transactions. It deals with international contracts for the sale of goods, international carriage of goods, financing, the multilateral and bilateral regime regulating trade in goods and services, issues relating to operating in foreign markets and resolution of international disputes. The book can be purchased from Federation Press.
(Posted 28 May 2009)

Dr Luke Nottage has initiated a blog on Japanese Law and the Asia-Pacific, overlapping with the broader East Asia Forum blog. Readers are most welcome to post comments.
(Posted 14 May 2009)

A new book by Assoc Prof Luke Nottage (with co-editors Leon Wolff and Kent Anderson) titled Corporate Governance in the 21st Century — Japan’s Gradual Transformation was recently published by Edward Elgar Publishing.
(Posted 9 April 2009)

Law Reform and Business Efficiency: China and Indonesia (6 July 2007)

Set out below are links to the presentations and papers given on 6 July at the Law Reform and Business Efficiency Conference. A number of the presentations were based on papers prepared as part of the Attractivité Économique du Droit (Economic Attractiveness of Law) program, which have been published online. The links to these papers are also provided below.

Resolution of commercial disputes in China – a Judge’s view (4 July 2007)

On 1 August 2005, Vivienne Bath gave evidence to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee on Australia's Relationship with China. Read the discussion.