Singapore judge among global experts appointed to serve China's commercial court

Judge of Appeal Steven Chong is among only five non-China nationals from Asia in the newly appointed international group of experts.
Judge of Appeal Steven Chong is among only five non-China nationals from Asia in the newly appointed international group of experts.PHOTO: SUPREME COURT

SINGAPORE - China's top court has appointed Singaporean Judge of Appeal Steven Chong to an international expert committee serving its International Commercial Court (CICC), in a further sign of deepening ties with the Singapore judiciary.

Justice Chong is part of a second group of 24 experts conferred with letters of appointment to the International Commercial Expert Committee (ICEC) on Tuesday (Dec 8) by Chief Justice Zhou Qiang, the president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) of China.

The first group of 31 experts were appointed in 2018.

Besides Justice Chong, Singaporean Senior Counsel Michael Hwang and Singapore-based Bruneian and Queen's Counsel Colin Ong, who also practises Singapore law, were also appointed to the ICEC.

They are among only five non-China nationals from Asia in the newly appointed international group of experts.

The Singapore Supreme Court said in a press release: "The appointment is yet another significant milestone in the deepening bilateral relations and cooperation between the Supreme Court of Singapore and the SPC."

The ICEC promotes international exchange and cooperation, particularly in relation to resolving international commercial disputes.

"It brings a vital international dimension to the expertise and resources available to the China International Commercial Court by having a broad representation of eminent jurists from all around the world, in addition to experts from within China," added the statement.

ICEC members may mediate cases entrusted by the CICC to resolve international commercial disputes, provide advisory opinion on specific legal issues in such dispute cases, and advise on relevant judicial interpretations and judicial policies formulated by the SPC.

The scope would include potential disputes on projects relating to the numerous countries that are in China's high-profile Belt and Road Initiative.

Expressing appreciation to Chief Justice Zhou and the SPC for the appointment, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the move "will undoubtedly deepen the already strong relations between the two Supreme Courts and further advance our cooperation in the area of commercial law".

Justice Chong said the ICEC and the CICC are important initiatives by the Chinese top court to enhance the effective resolution of international commercial disputes, towards the development of legal infrastructure supporting the Belt and Road Initiative.

"It is my honour and privilege to be appointed and I look forward to contributing to the work of the ICEC as well as the CICC," he said.

When contacted, both Dr Hwang and Professor Dr Ong welcomed the "signal honour".

"I look forward to contributing to the development of this important new Chinese legal institution. This is also a good opportunity for me to deepen my knowledge of the Chinese legal landscape, in which I have already been seriously involved over the last few years," said Dr Hwang.

Dr Ong added: "I hope that my experiences gained while sitting as an international commercial arbitrator can help me in serving and contributing to the work of the ICEC and the CICC. I very much look forward to dealing with Belt and Road Initiative cases."