Judicial cooperation a first for Singapore, China

Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (third from left) and Chinese Supreme People's Court president Zhou Qiang (fourth from left) at the round-table talk yesterday. With them are (from left) Singapore's Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Ambassador
Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon (third from left) and Chinese Supreme People's Court president Zhou Qiang (fourth from left) at the round-table talk yesterday. With them are (from left) Singapore's Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Ambassador to China Stanley Loh, and China's Supreme People's Court executive vice-president, Mr Shen Deyong.PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF SINGAPORE

Collaboration will help resolve disputes as commercial activities grow, says CJ Menon

Singapore and China have agreed to cooperate on legal and judicial matters, a new area of bilateral collaboration on top of economic and cultural exchanges.

Top legal officials from both countries met in Beijing yesterday to discuss cooperation at the inaugural Singapore-China Legal and Judicial Roundtable.

Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon co-chaired the round- table talk with Chinese counterpart Zhou Qiang before they signed a memorandum of understanding on legal and judicial cooperation.

"(The) round-table (talk) will further strengthen and expand opportunities for our courts to cooperate not only for our mutual benefit, but to also promote wider economic prosperity and security for our countries," CJ Menon said at the opening.

"Underpinning the sustained economic prosperity of both our countries is the promotion of the rule of law, based on a stable multilateral system and a rules-based order."

He noted that with growing commercial activities in the region, commercial cross-border disputes can be expected to increase.

"Businesses and individuals need to have confidence and certainty over the legal and judicial mechanisms that are available for them to resolve their disputes," he told a gathering of senior judges and legal officers at the closed- door meeting.

FOR STABILITY AND ORDER

(The) round-table (talk) will further strengthen and expand opportunities for our courts to cooperate not only for our mutual benefit, but to also promote wider economic prosperity and security for our countries. Underpinning the sustained economic prosperity of both our countries is the promotion of the rule of law, based on a stable multilateral system and a rules-based order.

SINGAPORE CHIEF JUSTICE SUNDARESH MENON

"These are the matters that will govern the rules and standards of both national and transnational commercial transactions, and the kinds of protection that will be given for physical and intellectual property."

Noting the importance of judicial cooperation, he also said: "There is a need for countries to deepen their understanding of national and international commercial laws. I believe that moving forward, there will be an increasing need to seek growing harmonisation in court processes and practices... Judicial cooperation will therefore be of critical importance."

As China rolls out its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South-east Asia, Singapore can play a role not only in financing these infrastructure projects, but also in resolving commercial disputes, he said.

He cited the Singapore International Commercial Court as one of the dispute-resolution services available in the Republic, which could act as a neutral supplement to the judicial systems of other Belt and Road countries.

The meeting also saw officials discussing issues such as mutual recognition and enforcement of monetary judgments, judicial training for judges, and the BRI.

CJ Menon also held talks with Mr Zhou, who heads China's Supreme People's Court, and met top procurator Cao Jianming.

Today, he will meet Mr Meng Jianzhu, a Politburo member of the Chinese Communist Party and also secretary of the party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Judicial cooperation a first for Singapore, China'. Print Edition | Subscribe