As more and more foreign companies and entrepreneurs look to the Qianhai and Shekou free trade area for better job or business opportunities, the number of disputes between expats and Chinese has seen a rapid increase. As a result, the international mediation system launched by the Qianhai Cooperation Zone People’s Court has become the first choice for dispute resolution.
Kumbayeva Aigerim, one of the 10 foreign mediators appointed by the court, says foreign mediators have helped improve the efficiency of case settlement. “In one mediation case (in which) an Indian businessman had a dispute with a Chinese company in terms of the provisions of a sales contract, I found they just had some misunderstandings due to the language barrier, so I made an effort to lead both parties to reach a settlement so that they don’t have to file a case, which reflects the value of the participation of foreign mediators.”
Aigerim is a Kazakh lawyer who graduated from Tsinghua University with a master’s degree in Chinese law. She is proficient in Chinese, English, Russian and Kazakh, which is a huge advantage for her in dealing with lawsuits involving foreign matters.
Aigerim’s company, Sincere Qianhai Law Offices, is one legal service institution that has partnered with the court to provide mediation services and is responsible for recommending foreign mediators.
As of August 2019, 10 foreign mediators had participated in 30 cases, of which 12 were settled. The international mediation system has become a suitable stage for expat mediators like Aigerim to take advantage of their language skills and legal expertise.
“My goal is to become not only a Kazakhstan lawyer, but also a foreign legal consultant in China. This is a new challenge for me, and I find it quite intriguing,” Aigerim said.
Her experiences working as a mediator have also helped her better understand the policies and opportunities related to the Belt and Road Initiative. “China is trying to promote the Belt and Road strategy and cooperate with the countries along the routes. The court is making huge efforts to encourage foreign entrepreneurs and enterprises to come to the free trade area. The mediation system is a great endeavor made by the court to serve the foreign litigants,” she said.
“I’m quite satisfied with my career here in Qianhai. Shenzhen is a multicultural and international city, where I have obtained a lot of knowledge and experience in terms of how to work with Chinese and foreign clients, as well as many job opportunities in terms of the Belt and Road policy. With these valuable experiences, my future plans are definitely related to China.”
As an important pivot in the Belt and Road region and the future financial hub of Shenzhen, Qianhai strives to safeguard and promote the exchanges and cooperation between individuals and legal service agencies along the “Belt and Road” routes. The Qianhai court aims to carry out continuous innovation in the rule of law and help to build a world-class business environment for international investors.