New Shanghai office lays groundwork for ICC Asia developments

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The FINANCIAL — The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has become the first non-Asian headquartered dispute resolution institution to establish an office in mainland China, following receipt of an official license from the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) of the People’s Republic of China permitting the opening of a new ICC representative office in Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone.

Issued on February 24, the license paves the way for the ICC Court to continue its expansion and increased engagement across Asia following the recent appointment of a regional director for South Asia and the opening of the ICC offices in Hong Kong (in 2008) and Singapore (in 2010).

Mingchao Fan, an experienced arbitrator, lawyer, scholar and faculty member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators has been named ICC Regional Director for North Asia. Mr Fan joins Abhinav Bhushan, ICC Regional Director for South Asia, as one of two directors appointed to take on the role of current regional director for Asia Sylvia Tee, who is due to leave ICC on 31 March 2016, according to ICC.

Ms Tee said : “The past three years have been a period of rapid growth for ICC in Asia, with numerous initiatives that have increased our engagement with stakeholders in Asia topped off by the establishment of the new office in Shanghai. I am immensely proud to have been a part of these developments and very grateful to the ICC leadership for their support. I would also like to thank the Shanghai Municipal Government for this great opportunity for ICC to establish a presence in Mainland China.”

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Based in the new Shanghai office, Mr Fan will work closely with Mr Bhushan to promote the Court’s world class services across Asia, a region that has witnessed continuing growth in arbitration use in recent years.

New ICC statistics reveal a more than 12% rise in the number of Chinese parties involved in ICC Arbitration cases filed in 2015 compared with 2014.

ICC Court President Alexis Mourre said: “The opening of our second regional office in Asia represents another milestone for Court expansion in Asia and will facilitate our ambitions to further leverage the growth in demand for our services not only from arbitration users in China but across the entire region.”

The decision to establish an office in Shanghai follows two Supreme People’s Court of China decisions published in 2014 to uphold arbitration agreements that subject relevant disputes to ICC Arbitration in Shanghai and Beijing.

“By establishing a presence in Shanghai we hope to build on our ties with the Chinese authorities and stand ready to adapt to dispute resolution developments in the country ,” Mr Mourre said.

Mr Fan, who holds a joint PHD from the East China University of Political Science and Law, and Duke University Law School, said: “Establishing a representative office in Shanghai is an important step for the Court that will help widen its geographical coverage and be a boost to visibility and relations with potential users not only in China but across the rest of North Asia. I am very excited to be part of this timely development.”

The Shanghai office inauguration will be celebrated at ICC’s upcoming Asia Launch of its report on arbitration costs in Shanghai. Mr Fan will participate in the half-day conference scheduled to take place on 3 March on the eve of the International Bar Association’s Arbitration Day.

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