The Ninth Asian-Pacific M&A Moot competition was organized by Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) and China Mergers & Acquisitions Association from the 24th of March till the 27th. As an annual Asian-Pacific competition, the event has attracted more than 16 universities to participate, including Macau University of Science and Technology, the University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, National Chengchi University, Tsinghua University, Xiamen University and more.
The competition consisted of three phases: submission of written reports, negotiation, and board reporting. Based on the memo and presentation, the judge panel made its decision after thorough discussion. The judge panel was chaired by Gong Yaling, partner of McDermott Will & Emery law firm. Other judges included Liao Mingxia, partner of Deheng (Shenzhen) Law Firm; Li Wei, founding partner of Shenzhen Songhe Capital; Ma Guozhu, Chairman of the Corporate Governance Professionals Association; Xie Jiayang, vice president of China M&A Association and managing partner of Ernst & Young China Strategy; Wang Ping, former Chairman China M&A Association and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hongyi Capital Group; Qu Zhenyu, General Manager of CMBC(Shenzhen) Investment Department; Li Mingming, Assistant Managing Director of Greater Bay Area Common Home Investment Co., Ltd.
STL team, coached by Professor Zhu Daming and composed of three STL students (Jin Xiaojia, Song Changlin and Zhu Runze) and three PHBS students (Cui Dijun, Wang Yishuai and Shen Wenbin), won the China M&A Association Best Legal Service Award and Best Memo Award. In addition, Jin Xiaojia was awarded the Best Performance Award and Song Changlin awarded the Best Teammate Award.
Below is the full list of the prize-winners:
Best M&A Plan Award: National Chengchi University, Wuhan University
Best Team Award Champion: Xiamen University
Best Team Award Runner-up: Tsinghua University
Best Team Award Third Runner-up: Hong Kong University
China M&A Association Best Financial Advisor Award: Taiwan University
China M&A Association Best Legal Service Award: Peking University
China M&A Association Best Industry Analysis Award: Shanghai Jiaotong University
Best Memo Awards: Macau University of Science and Technology, National Chengchi University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, National Chung Cheng University, East China University of Political Science and Law, Peking University, Hong Kong University, Taipei University
Best Performance Awards: Ma Yixuan, Lin Zhaozhi, Zheng Jiaqi, Mu Ladili, He Yijun, Jia Haidong, Zheng Yuren, Wang Luyuan, Cao Yici, Zhong Ying, Lai Xingyu, Jin Xiaojia, Jiang Xinyi, Wu Xinyi, Liao Yuhui, Huang Liyi
Best Teammate Awards: Zhao Chuchu, Liu Yizhen, Zheng Jiaqi, Zhang Jiaqi, He Yijun, Wang Yue, Zhu Jiazhen, Zheng Yuren, Chen Runping, Hong Wei’en, Lai Xingyu, Song Changlin, Qu Xin, Mo Weiting, Lu Jianhua, Li Dongsheng
On 30 March 2019, STL Visiting Assistant Professor Danny Friedmann was invited by Professor Klaus Mathis (Faculty of Law, University of Lucerne, see picture on the left) and Professor Avishalom Tor (University of Notre Dame Law School) to present his paper ‘Correcting Information Asymmetry via Deep Consumer Information; Compelling Companies to Let the Sunshine In’ at the 8th Law and Economics Conference: “Consumer Law and Economics” at the Faculty of Law, University of Lucerne. The conference brought together scholars from universities in China, Germany, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.
In his presentation Professor Friedmann stressed that legislation of honest and more informative labelling and certification is needed, but that it is insufficient to overcome information asymmetry between on the one hand companies and consumers and on the other hand companies and the government. The convergence of Information of Things, Block chain and Artificial Intelligence can help determine the ethicality, integrity and traceability of the constituting elements of end products.
In the 18th Century, the philosopher David Hume argued that the moral imagination diminishes with distance. With Deep Consumer Information Professor Friedmann aims to diminish the distance, from the rainforests to the supermarket shelves, so that moral imagination can be magnified.
On 18 March at the International Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), an invitation-only workshop was held to discuss issues related to China signing and ratifying the United Nations (UN) Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (Singapore Mediation Convention or Convention). Among the attendees of the workshop were persons from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Supreme People’s Court, and National People’s Congress, Foreign Affairs College and Shanghai office of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Susan Finder, STL Distinguished Scholar in Residence, was one of the organizers of the workshop, along with Mr. Wen Xiantao, section head of the Department of Treaties and Law of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and official Chinese negotiator of the Singapore Convention and Sun Wei, Zhong Lun partner and participant in the Convention negotiations as part of Beijing Arbitration Commission’s delegation to the negotiations as with observer status.
The Singapore Mediation Convention is intended to complement the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention, and when it goes into force, will enable international commercial settlement agreements that result from (third party) mediation to be enforced. Professor Finder, who chaired on of the sections of the workshop, invited Adrian Hughes, QC and Helen Tang (Shanghai-based disputes partner of Herbert Smith Freehills) in the room to be able to speak first hand about the process of and advantages of commercial mediation in international commercial dispute resolution, as well as the enforcement process in the courts of England and Wales.
The closed-door and invitation-only format enabled an interactive discussion among all participants. Among the many issues discussed were the implications for the courts, preventing the enforcement of fraudulent mediation settlements, and the lack of a law in China relating to commercial mediation.
(Photo Credit: Institute of Law)
From March 16-17, STL earned the second place in the Beijing Pre-Moot for the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. For individual prizes, Huang Shaowen won the Best Oralist in semi-finals and Zhang Fengming won the Best Oralist in the finals. Twelve universities competed in this pre-moot including Peking University School of Law, University of International Business and Economics, Renmin University of China and Fudan University.
The team, composed of four 2L students, Li Guangyu, Huang Shaowen, Zhang Fengming and Zhangqi, immediately headed to Guangzhou for the first Guangzhou Vis Pre-Moot on March 18. They won the First Prize, Best Memorandum for Claimant and Best Memorandum for Respondent. Additionally, Huang Shaowen was awarded with the Best Oralist for Claimant.
“It is all about teamwork. I thank the school for its support, thank Coach Cole Agar for the training, thank alumni for the encouragement and especially thank my teammates for the hard work we have been through. It is the support from all that enables us to make further improvements,” Huang Shaowen said.
Both Vis Pre-Moots provide training opportunities for oral pleadings in preparation for the 26th Annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot to be held in Vienna and Hong Kong in April 2019.
STL Dean Philip McConnaughay recently was interviewed by In-House Community, which has a wide readership with prospective employers. Below is the full interview.
The thing about … Philip McConnaughay
The dean of Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen discusses the development of legal education in China.
Asian-mena Counsel: What is the background of the Peking University School of Transnational Law, Shenzhen (STL) — when was it founded and what is its purpose?
Philip McConnaughay: STL was established in 2008 by special authorisation of China’s State Council. The founding dean was Jeffrey Lehman, a former president of Cornell University and dean of the University of Michigan Law School. The idea was to establish an American-style law school at China’s leading university that would be accredited by the American Bar Association [ABA]. The goal was to provide China’s top students the option of earning an internationally recognised Juris Doctor degree in China, while simultaneously providing an educational model that would help advance legal education and the legal profession in China.
STL took a detour of sorts in 2012 after the ABA refused to extend its accreditation jurisdiction outside of the US and Puerto Rico, and founding dean Lehman left to establish NYU’s Shanghai campus. That’s when I joined STL. We retained STL’s original purpose of providing an elite graduate-level common law JD education in China, but we expanded our mission by reforming and elevating our China Law Juris Master [JM] curriculum to include the “case study” and Socratic questioning methods of instruction typical of American legal education, both of which represent significant innovations in China legal education, and emphasising the new transnational legal and commercial principles likely to emerge from the rapidly expanding economic exchange between China and the West.
Most recently, we have been adding elements to our curriculum that focus on the legal and commercial traditions of Central and South Asia and the Middle East, all regions of growing importance in terms of China’s economic engagement.
The evolving economic integration of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, together with Shenzhen’s role as a gateway for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, offers what is probably the world’s most exciting and dynamic legal environment for STL’s unique approach to legal education.
In a nutshell, STL’s dual Common Law JD-China Law JM programme, which is unique in China and the world, has been wildly successful. Demand for STL graduates among China’s and the world’s leading law firms, multinational companies, government offices and NGOs is so high we are not able to meet it. We have negotiated alternative routes to American bar exam access for STL students that do not depend on ABA accreditation. There is keen interest in STL’s approach to legal education both within China and worldwide, and we are beginning to see other law schools emulate aspects of our approach. Perhaps most gratifying, STL graduates are becoming leaders of China’s growing legal profession, fully equipped to handle the sophisticated transactions and disputes increasingly characteristic of China’s advanced internationalised economy, traditionally almost exclusively the province of blue-chip Anglo-American firms.
AMC: How has the legal profession changed since you first graduated? Does STL provide all the training required for the ‘modern’ lawyer, or are there areas for improvement?
PM: The legal profession has undergone multiple changes since I first began practising law, both in the nature of services required and in methods of delivery. The demographics of the profession (thankfully), the rise of technology and electronic discovery, the use of alternative billing methods, the ability to work and partner remotely, and many other aspects of the profession all have changed quite dramatically. Although much of the law remains local and geographically defined and applied, the change I view as most fundamental has been the internationalisation of legal services. The best lawyers today are those prepared to contend fairly and knowledgeably with the interaction between different legal systems and traditions, and with the often fundamentally different expectations of parties from different traditions. Today’s lawyers must be prepared to acknowledge, respect and help find solutions when different traditions and expectations — even, at times, different notions of truth and justice — are present in a single transaction or dispute. I view this as both an intellectual and ethical responsibility of the profession. Yes, I believe STL prepares our students for this challenge.
AMC: In an era where we are encouraged to countenance multiple careers, your own has included not only being one of the only foreigners to hold a leadership position at Peking University, but also a senior partner at Morrison & Foerster (MoFo). How does a career in academia compare to a career in corporate law?
PM: Well, I have been very fortunate in that both aspects of my career, practising law and academics, have been incredibly interesting and rewarding. The thing I enjoyed most about practicing law is the constantly changing problems of significance that lawyers help address. My academic career really has had two dimensions, being professor and teacher, on the one hand, and being a law school leader, on the other. Being a professor provides a unique opportunity to think and write about issues independently of the interests of a client, and to contribute to the education of future lawyers. I have enjoyed both of these things very much. Leading a law school calls upon so many of the skills of practice — strategy, negotiation, sometimes adversarial negotiation — in addition to a knowledge of legal education that it’s almost as if my two professions have converged.
AMC: Your work at MoFo included helping to lead the MoFo team representing Fujitsu in its international arbitration with IBM. What was the significance of Fujitsu’s eventual victory?
PM: I’ll mention two aspects of the IBM/Fujitsu arbitration that I believe have had lasting significance and that, I should add, were achieved because of the efforts and ingenuity of both parties, both teams of lawyers, and the arbitrators. The first was the creation of a unique model for the management and resolution of a complex worldwide dispute involving multinational parties, the interests of multiple nations, and no clear applicable law. The IBM/Fujitsu arbitration was so large and complex that we essentially had to devise our own rules of procedure, applicable law and rules of engagement. It was a unique combination of arbitration, mediation and constant negotiation, in which the parties, arbitrators and lawyers happily shared a very forward-looking orientation. The process was far more about finding solutions than it was about imposing blame. The second was the principle of interoperability and the singular importance of clearly defined interfaces to interoperability. This was a major advance for worldwide consumers and producers of high technology.
AMC: Your academic writings are diverse and include a thoughtful piece on China’s impact on the Western legal tradition. Can you share some of your thoughts on this topic?
PM: I’ll share one. I do not believe in the eventual convergence of all law and legal practice around the Western legal tradition. We need to value very highly in a world of cross-border exchange and disputes those mechanisms and institutions, such as international arbitration and the 1958 New York Convention, that preserve the flexibility to respect and accommodate different legal and commercial traditions and expectations, as well as the new traditions and expectations likely to emerge from their interaction. My views about this are informed both by my years of practice representing non-US parties and interests, and by my experience helping to establish one of China’s most innovative and successful programmes of legal education.
AMC: As one of the seers relating to the exponential growth of Shenzhen and the emergence of the Greater Bay Area, how do you see its development comparing to Silicon Valley and the original Greater Bay Area in California?
PM: I’ve been fortunate to be a first-hand witness to the emergence of both areas. China has provided a modern, interconnected infrastructure for the Greater Bay Area — transportation, communications and energy — that, in my view, is likely to ensure the eventual expansion of the innovation and development characteristic of Shenzhen throughout the region. China also is doing an admirable job of experimenting with the best approaches to laws and judicial and regulatory institutions most conducive to sustaining the advanced, innovative, internationalised economy of the region. The one ingredient of technological innovation in which Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area still lag in comparison to California’s Silicon Valley and other US centres of innovation is higher education. The Greater Bay Area needs more institutions of higher education, and higher education throughout China, in my view, needs more autonomy if it ever hopes to match the creative output of the US.
AMC: Who was your mentor?
PM: In law practice and client service generally, two senior partners of Morrison & Foerster, the late Bob Raven and Jim Paras. I’ve never known finer, more ethical lawyers with a better understanding of the profession.
AMC: What advice would you give to a young lawyer entering the profession?
PM: Be honest. Be ethical. Leave no stone unturned. And, underestimate neither the complexity of the law nor the value of compromise.
AMC: What is your hinterland?
PM: I’ll interpret this literally as asking for my favourite remote area. This is probably the Indian Ocean Coast of the Margaret River region of Western Australia. I have many close “second” favourites all over the world, but the Margaret River region probably tops my list.
Guided by Associate Clinical Professor Nicholas Frayn, STL’s Public Interest Advocacy Clinic visited Myanmar to explore public interest legal issues in February 2019. The four students, Rao Yifan, Chen Xingwu, Tang Lixiang and Zhu Runze, and their professor visited local NGOs, law firms and international organizations of public interest law. These organizations included International Legal Foundation, Rule of Law Center, USAID Promoting the Rule of Law in Myanmar Project, Independent Lawyers Association of Myanmar and Yangon Justice Center. The students also participated in teaching at East Yangon University, focusing on legal education in China and the world.
Student Zhu Runze mentioned that it was a very meaningful journey with all the visits and communications. Other team members were also impressed by the wisdom and enthusiasm of local legal practitioners. In addition, Tang Lixiang said, “we shared the experience of STL’s law education, and the legal systems and judicial practices in China and America. It feels right to achieve input and output at the same time”.
Professor Frayn noted how impressed he was by the students’ attitude. “Some of the students making the visit had never left China before,” he said, “but they threw themselves into this project, asked insightful questions of the local practitioners, and responded to many questions about their education and the Chinese legal system. Not only that, but they participated in teaching local law students about both Chinese and American law, communicating difficult concepts in their second language, to students who are themselves non-native English speakers. Their dedication and commitment was a credit to them and STL.” Professor Frayn was teaching in Myanmar as an International Clinician in Residence with Bridges Across Borders, South East Asia Clinical Legal Education (www.babseacle.org).
The Public Interest Advocacy Clinic is part of STL’ s J.D./J.M. curriculum. It provides students an unparalleled opportunity to engage with actual cases in a non-theoretical manner. The emphasis is on real world practice. The first part of this year’s Clinic began in late 2018. The students not only studied classic US public interest cases, they also got a chance to draft complaints based on actual case facts. The second part of the course focused on public interest law in China where the students selected their topics of choice, field researched it by interviewing Chinese practitioners, and presented on it to their peers. The final part culminated in transposing the skills they learned to Myanmar.
From February 23-24, STL stood out at the First China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) Investment Arbitration Moot in Xi’an. The team, formed of four 2L students, Cheng Jinghui, Huang Mingyu, Wang Yueying and Zhang Huanglan and coached by STL C.V. Starr Lecturer Louis Zhou, won the Team Tier One Award, Best Advocate (Zhang Huanglan) and Advocacy Award of Merit (Wang Yueying). They will advance to Frankfurt Investment Arbitration on March 4.
Separately, from February 23-25, STL was awarded the First Prize in the Seventeenth Chinese National Round for Jessup International Law Moot Court in Yunnan. Guided by Assistant Dean Christian Pangilinan, the team is composed of four 2L students: Cui Luting, Lin Yifu, Qu Gangyi and Yin Wenjie. Two of them also won “The Best Oralist”.
STL plays an active role in national and international moot court competitions. In addition to the ones mentioned above, students also participate in ELAS WTO Moot Court, International Criminal Court Moot Competition, Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Court and VIS International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court. The competitions provide intense training in legal writing and oral advocacy, helping to augment skills already acquired in STL’s Transnational Law Practice program.
Peking University School of Transnational Law’s “STL Building” was honored at the 2018 Better Educational Environment Dynamic (BEED) Asia Spring Summit in Shanghai, April 12-14. The STL Building, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), one of the world’s premier architectural firms, was one of ten projects honored with a BEED Educational Facility Design Award. BEED Asia is devoted to supporting innovation in educational design with a platform that connects educational institutions with cutting-edge architects and designers, project vendors, and advanced technology providers.
Completed in January 2017, the 8,900 square-meter STL Building serves as the gateway for the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate Campus. The centerpiece of the building is a grand tiered atrium with spectacular outward views of the beautifully restored Dashahe River Parkway. Other signature features include a 100-person classroom that can be converted into a high-tech moot courtroom; an on-site law library equipped with the latest in digital research platforms; legal clinic and student organizations suites; outdoor terraces and reading gardens, including a stunning rooftop terrace; and abundant student study space with comfortable seating.
STL Professor Francis Snyder was one of the six foreign experts to receive Peking University’s Friendship Award at the University’s 2019 International Students and Foreign Experts New Year’s Party. This award recognized his enthusiastic support and contribution for the development of Peking University.
Professor Snyder is a scholar of European Union Law, WTO and international economic law, EU-China relations, technical standards, anti-dumping and food safety law. Since he joined STL at 2010, he has devoted himself to teaching and academic research. He is also a recipient of the 2018 China Friendship Award.
As the world’s governments meet in Poland to finalise the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, new articles co-authored by STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas in leading journals of climate law and policy analyze key aspects of Paris Agreement governance.
The article “Probing the hidden depths of climate law: Analysing national climate change legislation” is published in the Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL), co-authored by Professor Eloise Scotford (University College London) and Professor Minas. In this article, the authors examine the complexities of domestic climate legislation to implement the Paris Agreement, and propose a methodology for the development of climate legislation, to support both national planning and international cooperation.
The article “Resilience through interlinkage: the green climate fund and climate finance governance” is published in the Climate Policy journal, co-authored by Dr Megan Bowman (King’s College London) and Professor Minas. In this article, the authors analyze the governance of the Green Climate Fund established in 2010, and highlight opportunities for strengthening the Fund through greater engagement with the private sector and the UN’s climate Technology Mechanism.
Both articles are currently free-to-access without subscription, during the COP24 meeting.