DIFC Courts creates legal alliance for China's trillion-dollar Silk Road

DIFC Courts' agreement suggests Dubai is playing a greater role in international trade and development

DIFC Courts signed an agreement with the University of Oxford's China Centre.
DIFC Courts signed an agreement with the University of Oxford's China Centre.

Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC Courts) has teamed up with the University of Oxford's China Centre to protect investment in the Asian superpower’s $5tn (AED18.3tn) One Belt, One Road infrastructure project.

The memorandum DIFC Courts’ signed aims to safeguard the huge investments going into China’s One Belt, One Road project, and to create a seamless legal system along the economic trading belt.

DIFC Courts and the University of Oxford want to ensure that the legal, judicial, and arbitral systems in place to handle the opportunities created by China’s One Belt, One Road initiative are up to scratch.

READ: Kuwait eyes cut of China's trillion-dollar Silk Road project

Through joint research and reports, the collaboration aims to raise awareness around the legal and regulatory challenges that businesses and courts could face in the countries that the infrastructure project will pass through.

This could pave the way for effective dispute resolution and enforcement of court decisions along the One Belt, One Road trading route.

One Belt, One Road is a massive infrastructure project launched by the Chinese government to develop an international trading route of roads, rail, and shipping lanes to carry goods from China all the way to London.

It has been described as one of the most ambitious diplomatic and economic infrastructure projects ever launched by the People’s Republic of China.

To date, projects worth approximately $350bn (AED1.2tn) for One Belt, One Road have been financed largely by Chinese development banks, according to a 2016 survey by Lexis Nexis, and the China Institute of Corporate and Legal Affairs.

The survey said that robust dispute resolution systems and international enforcement mechanisms needed to be implemented to strengthen business confidence, legal certainty, and foreign direct investment in the project.

Michael Hwang, chief justice, DIFC Courts and Head of the DRA, said the Dubai judiciary had joined forces with University of Oxford to explore solutions for future dispute resolution on “one of the world’s most ambitious projects.”

Hwang said the “ideal legal platform” needed to incorporate a “robust regime of enforceable court judgments outside the boundaries of the issuing court”.

Professor Rana Mitter, director of China Centre at the University of Oxford, added: “The opportunities of the Belt and Road Initiative are substantial, but so are the potential legal complexities and risks. I am confident that our work alongside DIFC Courts will make an essential contribution to enabling and safeguarding both Chinese and international commercial interests as this remarkable initiative evolves and matures.”

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