Change is in the air

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Even with the global supply chain struggling to move forward and numerous sectors stagnant or in severe recession courtesy of the persistent pandemic, the year’s end is in sight, and it has remained hectic amid the tectonic shake-ups in China’s legal and regulatory landscape, from the historically significant Civil Code to the legislative awakening of data and personal information protection.

Prologue-CBLJ2110China is hard at work with the legislative reform of its arbitration system, aiming to become an international model of excellence. Burning ambition, the cover story for this issue, decodes China’s major efforts in advancing its approaches for dispute resolution.

Arbitration institutions are revamping their processes during the pandemic, with Beijing International Arbitration Centre becoming the first of its mainland peers to adopt hourly billing for arbitrators’ fees. Likewise, ad hoc arbitration has been written into the draft amendment to the Arbitration Law, although hindrances are expected to hamper its future implementation.

As China’s film and TV industry rapidly evolves, so do the legal challenges and risks involved. Since the latest amended Copyright Law came into effect in June, introducing new concepts such as “audio-visual works” to the mix, corporate counsel like Li Jingjue, legal director at Huayi Brothers who shared with us her insights in Creative defences, must contend with drastically increased difficulties in right distribution, as well as novel forms of intellectual theft under the asylum of legal grey areas.

Meanwhile, Chinese law firms are actively optimising their billing arrangements to meet the rising demand for high-quality services in a legal market where fee structures are still dominated by businesses. Priced to please marks our fifth annual effort in illustrating the latest billing practice in China’s legal market. With a grasp on both law firm billing standards and corporate preferences, we examine the unique position of hourly billing in China and begin to make sense of its rise and fall.

The winter is coming, and days are getting colder. We wish that was all that is changing with the world’s perilous climate, but an alarming IPCC report would indicate otherwise.

In An inconvenient moment of truth, we take a close look at China’s green policy initiatives, and discuss what governments and corporations should, or indeed must, do to avert a climate crisis. Further, we ask the question: should lawyers be shouldering greater responsibilities in this?

Last, but not least, as part of our ongoing tour of China’s regional legal markets, our Cityscape train has arrived at the station of Guangzhou, the capital of the richest province. As demonstrated in Stepping up, this historically trade-centric city, although somewhat falling behind in terms of modernisation and finance in recent years, is in the middle of transforming into an advanced tech-based manufacturing hub, placing greater demands on legal services.