Young lawyers explore dispute resolution in China

Victoria University of Wellington Law student Sam Macintosh recently organised a trip to China, giving a delegation of young lawyers first-hand experience of international legal systems.

The group of delegates with the NZ ambassador to China
L-R: Liam Stoneley (delegate and Solicitor Chapman Tripp), Katherine Neville-Lamb (delegate and Solicitor at Polson MacMillan), Sam Macintosh, Michael Powles (ex-New Zealand Ambassador to China), Clare Fearnley (Current New Zealand Ambassador to China), Heida Donegan (Senior Counsel and Head of China Business at Kensington Swan), Emily Osborne (delegate and Solicitor at Simpson Grierson), Elia Kim (delegate and Solicitor at Kensington Swan), Emma Gattey (delegate and Junior Barrister at Thorndon Chambers).

Fourth-year Law and Arts student Sam built the entire itinerary, which aimed to increase awareness of different cultures within the legal profession, to give an overview of the Chinese legal system, and to highlight the variety of opportunities that exist for New Zealand lawyers overseas.

The group participated in roundtable seminars at International Arbitration centres in both Beijing and Shanghai (organised through Victoria University alumna Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)), the China University of Political Science and Law, Guantao Law Firm and Zespri, among others.

The delegates all have backgrounds in dispute resolution, and being invited to participate in roundtable discussions at the HKIAC gave them some great insights into how dispute resolution is utilised in China. Sam says, “It was perhaps surprising to see how enthusiastically China has embraced institutional arbitration as a mainstream mechanism of dispute resolution, especially in the realm of international business.

“Listening to a kiwi intellectual property expert in Shanghai (Victoria University alumnus Rocky Meng, principal of Zhongwo Law Firm), it also became apparent that intellectual property law, at least in China’s major cities, was also ahead of the curve with dedicated administrative bodies for the fast, easy resolution of disputes.”

Sam’s highlights from the trip included visits to the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Bund in Shanghai, and having the opportunity to network with both New Zealand and Chinese lawyers. “It was incredible to be able to connect with the other delegates on China-related interests and issues, and it was similarly great to be able to interact meaningfully with both Chinese practitioners, and New Zealanders working in the Embassy and Consulate, in order to really understand some areas of China’s legal system, and New Zealand’s role in the region.”