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Shanghai Maritime Court and Shanghai Maritime University cope with problems to find foreign law


On October 23, Shanghai Maritime Court and Shanghai Maritime University signed the Cooperation Agreement on Foreign Law Finding”. The two sides will cooperate in the maritime areas of finding foreign law and actively handle the problems that restrict the efficiency of foreign-related trials in ascertainment and application of foreign law. 


Foreign-related maritime cases account for more than 40%


Shanghai, standing at the forefront of reform and opening up, now is an international shipping center where the Free Trade Zone locates and many national strategies gather. The unique geographical advantage makes the maritime cases accepted by Shanghai Maritime Court show a strong transnational and foreign-related character.


According to introduction, the foreign-related cases handled by the Shanghai Maritime Court possess the following characteristics: First, the number and ratio is large. Cases involved with foreign factors account for 40% of first instance cases accepted with the sum being on an upward trend yearly. Second, the types of foreign-related cases are diversified and the legal relations, controversial issues involved are becoming increasingly complicated. Third, the cases involve a wide range of areas among 40 countries and regions. Fourth, there are a certain percentage of cases with bothparties overseas, and they are more likely to reach the agreement of choosing to be under the maritime court’s jurisdiction.

Work together to break the problems of the proof of foreign law


While the international credibility and influence of maritime jurisdiction in our country are constantly on the rise, the bottleneck issue which restricts  foreign-related trial works of ascertainment and application of foreign law has become increasingly obvious. At present, since the methods of proofing is inadequate; the responsibility attribution is not clear enough; also there are difficulties in identifying foreign law provided by parties, thus, some cases should have applied effectively foreign law according to conflict rules due to the failure at identifying foreign law in judicial practice.


This time, Shanghai Maritime Court and Shanghai Maritime University joined forces together to carry out cooperation in the maritime field of the proof of foreign law, in order to resolve the problems for courts and parties in foreign-related trials, to ensure that the commercial subjects are equally protected by choosing applicable laws freely to solve disputes between the two parties and to enhance the ability and level of internationalization of maritime justice in our country.


It is reported that in August 2016, the two sides signed the “Cooperation Agreement on Maritime Law Research and Talent Training” to carry out all-round and deep-level strategic cooperation in legal research, resource sharing, expert consultation, training exchange and personnel cultivation. Based on that, the two sides further conducted special cooperation to identify foreign law in maritime field. On one hand, it is beneficial for Shanghai Maritime University to give full play to the unique professional advantages which will provide specialized intellectual support for the proof of foreign law in maritime law area; on the other hand, it is also conducive for Shanghai Maritime Court to make use of rich case resources from foreign-related trials so as to accumulate more practical experiences and provide more research materials for the improvement of the ascertainment and application of foreign law and the internationalization of maritime legal system in our country.

Co-build a working mechanism to find foreign law


For the specific methods to find foreign law by legal experts, the relevant person who is in charge introduced that Shanghai Maritime Court will issue a letter of entrustment to Shanghai Maritime University if there is any need to find foreign law. So it is the university who will assign experts or an expert group to work on this mission, including ascertainment and translation, then announce the professional opinions, the opinions will be testified in court and the expert will attend the court for questions himself.


Shanghai Maritime Court claims that the ascertainment and application of foreign law is an internationally accepted standard taken for measuring the foreign-related judicial work and the level of the rule of law in international community. Cooperating with colleges, scientific research institutes and third-party social organizations is an effective way to solve these problems of ascertainment and application of foreign law. In future, the sides will continue to improve the mechanism and enhance the level of ascertainment and application of foreign law, and jointly make positive contributions to the construction of an international maritime judicial center.