Chinese-educated foreign dispute resolution mediators now sitting in Chinese courts

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Jan, 14 – In a demonstration that the Chinese Ministry of Justice is actively engaging with Western concepts of judicial management and dispute resolution, and as a result of on-going educational and instructional support from the American and British governments in particular, we can report that a 27-year-old British-South African woman, Katie Kinahan, has been appointed as a mediator to the Hailing Road branch of the Golou District in Nanjing, where she has been involved in dispute resolution involving domestic housing issues.

Kinahan has been studying dispute resolution law at the Nanjing University law school since 2003, and additionally speaks, reads and writes fluent Mandarin. The appointment, which is still to be made permanent, does however demonstrate a unique softening of attitudes towards Western involvement in the development of transparency in China’s judicial system. This development indicates that such appointments, though still on a trial basis, are set to continue to provide both the international business community a better understanding of the unique cultural issues that China faces with disputes on its soil, as well a cross-fertilization of the introduction of concepts of transparency and judicial management practice in Chinese courts.

We expect further announcements concerning the involvement of senior U.S. counsel in the promotion of judicial management during the course of 2008, following on from the successful demonstration of “staged” trials by jury as arranged by the British Embassy during 2006, and view the engagement of previously held “foreign” concepts of transparency and the interaction of Western legal professionals within the Chinese system as a strong step forward for China as it seeks to better integrate with the issues globalization brings as a member of the international business community.

For more on issues lawyers in China face concerning independence in China and the defense of rights, please click here.