Arthur Dong and Darren Mayberry
Eventually, civic life requires everyone to produce documents for inspection and approval. As individuals, we need to submit documents in connection with a new bank account, health insurance, job applications, enrollment into an institution of higher learning, occupational licensing, and evaluation for loans. Companies and organizations may have even more occasions and demands placed on them to produce documents. Even so, parties often resist the production of documents while in the throes of a commercial dispute. Perhaps this happens because the opposing party routinely makes the request, and not a neutral third-party. China’s institutional rules for arbitration, however, are silent as to whether the parties may request documents, and under what circumstances the parties may do so.
Arbitration in China seems to reflect an overall disposition of reluctance towards the document production process. Leading institutional rules in China offer wide latitude, but little guidance, as to document production procedure. As a practical matter, a China-based Tribunal is likely to order document production only within a narrow and proscribed range. Participants in China-based arbitration may consider whether to forgo the document production phase altogether. After all, the process can incur considerable time and expense. However, such a departure from international norms would also carry risk. If parties decide to exercise document production, it would seem wisest to adopt the CIETAC Guidelines on Evidence, and do so prior to any dispute.
Authored by Arthur Dong <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Darren Mayberry <email@example.com> at AnJie Law Firm