（photo by Mark Cohen）
Last week, top U.S. and Chinese judges and legal experts came together to implement the agreement between Presidents Obama and Xi to hold a high level exchange on judicial reform and commercial rule of law, which stated:
China and the United States commit to conduct high-level and expert discussions commencing in early 2016 to provide a forum to support and exchange views on judicial reform and identify and evaluate the challenges and strategies in implementing the rule of law. U.S. participants are to include leading members of the U.S. judiciary, U.S. government legal policy experts, and officials from the Departments of Commerce and Justice and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Chinese participants are to include officials from the Central Leading Group on Judicial Reform, leading members of the Chinese judiciary, and Chinese government legal policy experts. This dialogue is to result in an improvement in the transparency and predictability of the business environment. This dialogue does not replace, duplicate or weaken existing regular bilateral legal and human rights dialogues between China and the United States.
According to Amb. Baucus’ view of the dialogue: “companies – American and Chinese – need predictability. An independent judiciary that can resolve civil and administrative disputes fairly, transparently, and according to the law, is critical. If we can deepen cooperation between the United States and China on judicial matters, it will help improve the investment climate, to the benefit of companies and workers in both of our countries.”
Chinese media reported that there were over 30 experts, officials and judges attending the program, which included several important IP judges such as SPC Justice Tao Kaiyuan, and Deputy Chief IP Judge Wang Chuang, as well as Beijing IP Court President Su Chi, as well as He Zhonglin, head of the SPC’s Office of International Cooperation and a former IP judge himself (see picture above). According to the media, members of the delegation also met with Meng Jianzhu, head of the Party Political Legal Committee.
The US Department of Justice released the opening speech of Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General, who noted that the Dialogue included many topics germane to IP such as: “How can parties obtain the evidence they need to prepare for trial? What evidence should be admissible in court? How do courts and parties use expert witnesses? What can courts do to handle a large number of cases fairly, transparently, and efficiently, when resources are finite? What sort of personnel do we need to implement the rule of law, and how do we ensure that they are properly trained and feel they are part of a justice-focused mission? Finally, what is the role of precedents in providing guidance to business as to what behavior violates the law?”
This is not the first such judicial exchange, nor the first exchange with a common law country. The Federal Circuit has been engaged in two major programs on IP adjudication with the Chinese courts, including one that involved over 1200 people including 200 Chinese judges in 2012, and a second large sale program in Shanghai in 2015. This year, the focus on the UK judicial exchanges this year is also on commercial law. Individual US judges, such as Denny Chin and Randall Rader have also traveled to China and engaged the Chinese judiciary on IP and commercial legal matters, including by attending important programs in the United States. In the UK, Mr Justice Birss was very supportive of these exchanges in comments he delivered at the Fordham IP Conference this year. The SPC has reportedly established friendly relationships with judicial institutions of more than 130 countries and 20 international or regional organizations.
Chinese media noted that the next meeting of the dialogue of scheduled for Washington, DC.