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Lawyers Expected to Deal With Transnational Disputes

Lawyers trained to handle international lawsuits are becoming increasingly sought after as an increasing number of transnational legal disputes are expected in the coming years.

Yang Xiaoyong, chief judge for international cases at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, said the country needs "a good number" of qualified lawyers to deal with the expected hike in transnational disputes.

Such cases have been on the rise in China in recent years. As many other countries, China permits only domestic lawyers to deal with international lawsuits filed at home.

The problem so far is that domestic lawyers lack experience in dealing with suits involving both foreign and domestic parties, said Yang.

"They (the lawyers) still need two to three years to qualify themselves and gain more experiences in handling such disputes," said Yang.

Yang predicts a serious shortage of such professionals in the near future.

Qualified lawyers for transnational suits should have a good knowledge of both domestic and international law, especially laws related to the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Zhou Jinlong, one of the founders of Beijing-based Guo and Partners Attorneys at Law.

An excellent command of foreign languages is also a requisite for handling transnational cases, according to Zhou.

The court official Yang noted that lawyers with legal education backgrounds both at home and abroad usually do better in handling transnational suits.

"Such lawyers usually better understand international practices and WTO-related international laws," said Yang.

Zhou's law firm has invited at least six professionals with law studies backgrounds in Germany, Japan and the United States since it was founded to prepare for the anticipated upsurge of business opportunities.

Since it was founded last April, the firm has handled 25 international suits, along with many WTO-related legal consultations, said Zhou.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court launched earlier this year a special team of judges to deal with expected transnational disputes following the country's formal entry into the WTO in December.

The team mainly handles cases concerning loan contracts, international transport contracts and disputes involving credit letters, international cooperation and trade transactions with foreign businesses.

(China Daily February 16, 2002)

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