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Sophia Tang

State immunity in global COVID-19 pandemic:

State immunity in global COVID-19 pandemic: Alters, et. al. v People’s Republic of China, et. al.

By Zheng Sophia Tang and Zhengxin Huo

  1. Background

Four American citizens and a company filed the class-action against Chinese government for damages suffered as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. None of the named plaintiffs were infected by the COVID-19 but they suffered financial loss due to the outbreak. The defendants include the People’s Republic of China, National Health Commission of PRC, Ministry of Emergency Management of PRC, Ministry of Civil Affairs of PRC, Government of Hubei Province and Government of the City of Wuhan. The plaintiff argued that Chinese government knew COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic yet covered it up for their economic self-interest and caused injury and incalculable harm to the plaintiffs. (here)

Coronavirus outbreak and force majeure certificate

Due to the outbreak, China has adopted a number of public health measures, including closing schools and workplaces, limiting public gatherings, restricting travel and movement of people, screening , quarantine and isolation. At least 48 cities were locked down by 14 Feb 2020. (here) More than two thirds of China’s migrant workers were unable to return to work, (see here) leaving those firms that have restarted operation running below capacity.  

Coronavirus and the emergency measures significantly affect economic activates in China. The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), a quasi-governmental entity, issued 3,325 force majeure certificates covering the combined contract value of $38.5bn to exempt Chinese companies from their contractual obligations.

China is one of few countries that permits the parties to choose the applicable law governing cross-border infringement of intellectual property disputes. Article 50 of the Chinese Law Applicable to Foreign-Related Civil Relations 2010 (Conflicts Act) provides that the parties could choose Chinese law (lex fori) after dispute has arisen to derogate from the default applicable law, i.e. lex loci protectionis, in IP infringement disputes.

This choice of law rule was applied by the Beijing IP Court in its 2017 decision on Xiang Weiren v  Peng Lichong (“Drunken Lotus”), (2015) Jing Zhi Min Zhong Zi 1814. The claimant published his painting “Drunken Lotus” in 2007. In 2014, the defendant exhibited his artwork entitled “Fairy in Lotus” in Mosco and Berlin, which allegedly had infringed the claimant’s copyrights. Although the parties did not enter into an explicit choice of law agreement, both parties submitted their legal arguments based on Chinese Copyright Law, which was deemed an “implied” ex post choice of Chinese law. Beijing IP Court thus applied Chinese law to govern the infringement dispute.

Conference on Due Process in International Commercial Arbitration will be held on 18 Oct 2019 at the New York University Lester Pollack Colloquium Room, organised by NYU Centre for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration and Commercial Law.

This event will discuss the topics addressed in the national reports drafted on the basis of a questionnaire prepared by Professors Franco Ferrari, Dietmar Czernich, and Friedrich Rosenfeld. The ultimate goal behind the national reports and the discussion that will take place at the conference is to provide the necessary background information for the preparation of a set of guidelines on due process in international arbitration. The purpose of these guidelines is twofold. On the one hand, they will identify the appropriate standard of due process that arbitrators should apply in international arbitration proceedings. On the other hand, they will contain recommendations on how arbitrators can respond to misuses of due process by recalcitrant parties. To this end, they will identify appropriate case management techniques that help to ensure the efficiency of the proceedings. For further information, please find the Due Process Conference Program October 2019.

Robin Morse Memorial Lecture

The Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London is holding an inaugural Memorial Lecture to honour the memory of Professor Robin Morse, who died last year. He was widely admired both within King’s (where he served as Dean of the School of Law) and beyond it for his scholarship and dedication to teaching, especially of the conflict of laws.
The lecture will be given by Lord Collins of Mapesbury on “Justiciability and the Conflict of Laws” on Wednesday 7 November 2018 in the Safra Lecture Theatre on KCL’s Strand Campus, and will begin promptly at 6.30pm. It will be followed by a reception.
Attendance is free, but numbers are limited and registration is required. You can sign up here.

Value of award: 100% of UK/EU tuition fees for 3 years and an annual stipend at the UKRI postgraduate rate, currently £14,777.

Start date and duration: 1 September 2018 for 3 years.

Application closing date: 12 July 2018.

Overview: Applications are invited from candidates with an interest in pursuing a PhD in any area of Law in which the School offers supervision. See our list of staff members to find an appropriate supervisor for your research topic.

Eligibility Criteria: Candidates are expected to hold at a minimum either a first class, or a very good upper second class undergraduate degree in Law.

Applications will be considered on their merits, including further education at Masters level, a publication record, professional qualifications, or relevant work experience.

Soterios Loizou at King’s College London has uploaded an interesting article on ssrn entitled “Revisiting the ‘Content-of-Laws’ Enquiry in International Arbitration”. The abstract is:

The Foundation of Choice of Law: Choice and Equality

The Foundation of Choice of Law: Choice and Equality by Dr Sagi Peari has been published by OUP recently. Please find the abstract below:

University of Glasgow has announced a PhD scholarship opportunity for the project entitled “The Europeanisation of International Private Law: Implications of Brexit for Children and Families in Scotland” supervised by Professor Janeen Carruthers. The project shall commence in Oct 2018 and will provide (1) a stipend at the RCUK rate (2018-19 rate is £14,777 Full-Time); (2) 100 % tuition fee waiver; (3) access to the Research Training Support Grant. UK/EU and International applicants are eligible to apply.

For more information, please visit the university website, or follow this link:  The Europeanisation of International Private Law – Implications of Brexi….

Yehya Badr, Associate Professor at the Alexandria University, Egypt, published an article “A Cure From Rome for Montreal’s Illness: Article 5 of the Rome I Regulation and Filling the Void in the 1999 Montreal Convention’s Regulation of Carrier’s Liability for Personal Injury”, in (2018) 83 JOURNAL OF AIR LAW AND COMMERCE 83.  The abstract reads: