Britain's Justice Minister recently expressed a desire to turn his country into the "lawyer and advisor to the world" by making London the preeminent forum for resolving international commercial disputes. Therefore, it is natural that the U.K., in tune with other jurisdictions around the world, is targeting Asian, including Chinese, parties in its attempt to promote itself as a dispute resolution venue.
The intent of this self-promotion is clear - to boost the UK's legal industry as a key component of its economy (the sector brought in £23 billion – $36 billion in 2009 alone). However, less obvious are its prospects for success. London, with its large pool of specialist lawyers, reputation for judicial impartiality, and predictable common law system has long been an international arbitration and litigation hub. Nevertheless, there are profound cultural, political, and economic forces which point to a growing prominence of Asian forums, including China itself, in deciding disputes involving Chinese parties.
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First appeared in ALB Issue 8.12, 2012