China Arbitration Follies

April 28, 2013

A while back, I wrote about the feud between the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) and, well, itself, specifically Beijing (aka headquarters) and its sub-commissions in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The latter two went rogue, with Beijing saying that the “CIETAC” moniker was no longer available to them and that anyone choosing to arbitrate with CIETAC in those locations would have to go through Beijing from now on.

The inevitable break between these organizations has occurred, and now both Shenzhen and Shanghai must go it alone without the valuable CIETAC brand. Good luck to them, but as a recent article put out by law firm Hogan Lovells illustrates quite well, bizarre and complicated branding is not going to help.

Upon the approval by the Shanghai Municipal Government and agreed by the Shanghai Commission for Public Sector Reform, the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission Shanghai Sub-commission (“CIETAC Shanghai”) has officially become the SIETAC.  It will also use the SHIAC concurrently as the official name.

These guys say that they will accept cases under the names SIETAC, SHIAC, and CIETAC Shanghai, but we’ll see what the CIETAC folks up here in Beijing have to say about that. Something tells me that the Ministry of Justice is going to step in and knock some heads together.

Since I don’t do dispute resolution work, or at least not directly, this situation is mostly just amusing. Moreover, in local agreements I draft that choose China dispute resolution, I don’t generally use either Shenzhen or Shanghai arbitration anyway.

However, those of you who do need to resolve disputes in those places, beware. CIETAC Shanghai? SIETAC? SHIAC? Just don’t use SEA-TAC, or you’ll end up in a completely different jurisdiction altogether.