Two years after China’s Supreme Court established its expert committee on the adjudication of international commercial disputes, it has announced the second group of members of the committee, and this includes four African legal experts. The expert committee, otherwise known as the International Commercial Expert Committee of the Supreme People’s Court, came into being in August 2018 to enable China’s International Commercial Court (CICC) to work effectively.
The CICC adjudicates international commercial cases but its specific mission is to support the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) and to solve disputes that arise from it. The BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy by the Chinese government to invest in about 70 countries and international organizations.
The expert committee, which works as “a think tank”, “backing up the professionality of judges” to ensure the credibility and justice of judgments,” is made up of distinguished judges, legal experts, scholars, arbitrators and outstanding lawyers who are selected from different countries and legal systems. In 2018, 31 Chinese and foreign experts were appointed as the first group of members for the committee.
On Tuesday, December 8, the second group of members for the committee was announced. In all, there were 24 experts, including 11 experts from mainland China, 1 expert each from Hong Kong and Macau, and 11 foreign experts, all of whom will be mediating international commercial disputes and advising the CICC, among other duties.
Among the foreign experts on the committee are the following four African legal experts:
Bart Magunda Katureebe
Barely six months after his retirement, Uganda’s former Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe will serve as a member of the expert committee. Katureebe who retired this year is highly recognized in Uganda for some of his judicial innovations including his introduction of an electronic case management system and his championing of a law that aims to strengthen judicial independence. The retired chief justice, who has served in various ministries of government including Minister of Justice and Attorney General, is a member of the Steering Committee of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Court. During his appointment ceremony held in Shenzhen, China, Katureebe, who attended virtually due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, said “I am profoundly excited about this appointment, for it is a high-level Committee that will keep me professionally connected.”
Christopher Adebayo Ojo
A former Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Ojo is currently the President of the African Arbitration Association, a Chartered Arbitrator, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). He has also served as President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria Branch. Apart from acting as Chairman and member of Arbitral panels at the ICC, the LCIA and ICSID, Ojo has also acted as expert witness in international arbitration. CICC writes that “he was until recently a member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) Geneva Switzerland, Council member of the Section on Energy and Natural Resources Law of the International Bar Association, a member of the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, Washington, DC, a member of the Panel of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Hague, Netherlands, Alternate Chairman of UNESCO Appeals Board in Paris, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators London, President of the African Users’ Council of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).”
The Algerian independent international arbitrator is a former Judge and Vice-President of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (Arusha). He was also former President of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (Geneva) and Secretary of the International Court of Justice. His bio by CICC adds that Ouguergouz “was a Legal Officer at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (New York), Consultant of Permanent Delegation of the African Union (Geneva), Consultant of Department of International Norms of International Labour Office (Geneva).”
Ouguergouz is currently Senior Fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva) and acting as arbitrator in commercial and investment arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, International Senior Expert at United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Geneva). He is also a member of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (The Hague), member of the International Commission of Jurists (Geneva), member of the Governing Board of the International Institute of Human Rights (Strasbourg) as well as a founding member of the African Foundation for International Law (The Hague) and of the African Institute of International Law (Arusha), CICC said.
Egypt’s Selim is a board member of the Africa Arbitration Association, Vice-Chairman of the Egypt Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and board member of Francarbi. He is also Director of the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) and Secretary-Treasurer of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions (IFCAI). Selim’s career began as a Public Prosecutor in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Egypt. He then became a civil judge before joining Zulficar & Partners Law Firm in 2009, as a leading member of its Arbitration Group. There, he was promoted to Partner in 2013 and has been rising in the legal field ever since.