Interview: Jackie Chan Sun, Haida Law Firm, China

Mr Jackie Chan Sun has been in the legal industry for nearly 20 years. He has served as a Judge in the military court of the People’s Liberation Army and a court in Qingdao City, in charge of criminal and civil cases. He is a full-time legal advisor who has been working as a lawyer in China since 2009. His main practice areas are international trade, civil and commercial contracts, labor disputes and intellectual property. 

Mr Sun also assisted clients in the listing of companies and mergers and acquisitions. He is the legal advisor to Ocean University of China (OUC), which is a comprehensive university with particular strengths in oceanography and fisheries science. OUC is recognized as the driving force of China’s marine research and application.

LTA : Mr. Sun, how did you start your journey in law?

Sun :  In my teenage years, I always had aspirations to pursue a career in the legal profession. The legal profession is a platform to showcase one’s talents, achieve self-actualization, arouse passion for life, and to fight for justice. In 2000, I graduated from the PLA Xi’an Institute of Politics and obtained a Bachelor of Laws Degree. I then became a judge.

LTA : Could you share with us your experience in handling cross border matters?

Sun : Since my departure from the judiciary in 2009, I had acted as in-house legal counsel for several international trading companies and has also handled a number of cross-border disputes arising from cross-border trade and international maritime disputes. During this process, I deeply felt that to be a cross border lawyer, apart from enhancing personal knowledge, it is important to learn from international counterparts, to strengthen the skills set and exposure in handling practical issues. Apart from this, a cross border lawyer must be able to take preemptive action to advise businesses in advance about legal risks, to define cooperation framework clearly in legal and other documents, so as to have enough safeguards for legal risks. Such precautions are necessary to ensure that when disputes arise, one can take appropriate action to protect its interests timely.

LTA : Mr. Sun, is there any practical advice for lawyers handling cross border transactions? Any particular aspects one should watch out?

Sun : First and foremost, during the process of contract negotiations of cross border transactions, cross border lawyers must closely scrutinize and study the proposed contract terms, to make sure the terms are clear and ensure that risks are controlled.
Very often, disputes arise because there are ambiguities in the contract terms. Competent lawyers can assist in ensuring that the contract terms are clear, without inconsistencies, which can facilitate smooth implementation of the terms. This is particularly important when the transactions span across different counties and regions. After negotiations, competent lawyers must fight for its clients to negotiate more favorable terms before execution of the contract.

From my experience in handling negotiations for businesses in international transactions, more often businesses would focus on the commercial terms of cooperations, the quality of the goods or services to be provided, with less focus on the possibility to deal with potential disputes arising out of the cooperation. In particular, at the initial stage when the cooperation is cordial, parties often disregard potential legal risks.

Take the example of a international trading company which I served. The company is trading in kitchen cutlery. Through international trade exhibitions, it invested huge amount in building customer base in Northern American, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. However, since it did not pay sufficient attention to manage legal risks during contract negotiations, the customers who become more familiar with the market in China have dropped out during the latter negotiations. This had once dealt a severe blow to the company with great loss.

The company has learned from this lesson and improved during the business development project in the European market. During the contract negotiation, through careful delineation of the parties’ rights, obligations in the framework agreement of strategic cooperation, there are controls imposed on the procurement actions of the contracting parties in the China market, with clear provisions on consequence of breach and mode of dispute resolution. This effectively prevented loss of customers and prevented unfair competition, with good safeguards in legal protection.

LTA : Mr. Sun, any advice to businesses in choosing arbitration institutions or resolution through court proceedings?

Sun : As China is rapidly opening up, the scale and scope of international trade and foreign investments are expanding tremendously. Following outbound investments of businesses year by year, there are bound to be disputes between Chinese companies and foreign entities during the course of commercial cooperations. In my experience, during the course of negotiation of dispute resolution clauses, both parties would endeavor to bargain for the mode of dispute resolution or the governing laws which is the most favorable to them. Each side would try its best to fight for adoption of laws of its home jurisdiction and submission to the course of its home country for resolution. In the end, both have to compromise by agreeing to adopt international arbitration, as it is professional and involves “judicial” process in adjudication. For parties who come from New York Convention countries, they incline to adopt international commercial arbitration to resolve disputes.

Let me take my home region, Qingdao, as an example. Qingdao is an important economic city and port in the eastern coastal areas of China. It is an important international trade port and maritime transportation hub in the western Pacific Rim, with trading activities with more than 450 ports and more than 130 countries and regions.  Its cargo handling capacity of seaports is among the top ten in the world. It is an important hub in the implementation of the Maritime Silk Road and “One Belt One Road” Initiative.

Qingdao City has a lot of commercial activities in international trade and services, and as a port city, each year there is a large number of international shipping disputes. In business negotiations of contract documents, there is a growing trend among Qingdao enterprises to adopt arbitration as the prevalent mode of dispute resolution, as it can preserve the confidentiality and efficient in resolving disputes.

More and more Qingdao enterprises incline to choose Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia as the seat of arbitration. As Hong Kong has sophisticated arbitration laws, arbitration friendly courts and close ties to Mainland China, it quickly stands out among other arbitration centers in Asia. There are more and more Qingdao enterprises which choose Hong Kong as the seat of arbitration for international investment disputes. Also, Hong Kong’s unique ad hoc arbitration has attracted interest and attention from Chinese companies as the process is highly efficient.

LTA : Mr. Sun, do you have any thoughts about cooperation between lawyers in different countries?

Sun : Lawyers who handle cross border matters should pay attention to increase international exchanges and cooperations with their overseas counterparts. With different legal, cultural background and language, it would not be easy for lawyers to be fully conversant with the laws and legal systems in different countries. Hence, it is all the more important to enhance international cooperations and collaborations between lawyers in different regions.

At present, with the growing number of dispute cases, more and more law firms devote their attention to cross border legal services, in particular large law firms which has top-notch lawyers with specialized practice areas and teams of translation experts who can accurately translate legal documents into different languages. Collaborations between lawyers can also bridge the gap between clients to breakthrough language barriers, and effectively assist clients to understand the key elements of foreign laws. At the same time, if one is required to participate in cross border litigation or international arbitration, it not only demands manpower and time, it also involves substantial costs, including legal costs for legal action in courts, or arbitral tribunal fees and attorney fees, etc.. By enhancing cooperation between overseas counterparts, cross border lawyers will be well-positioned to pick the most suitable foreign law firm to work as a team, which would be most helpful in budget control.

LTA : Mr. Sun, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Sun : Family life is the safe harbor for the stress of a busy practice. One should not place economic gain as the paramount goal. To me, the satisfaction derived from practice, rather than materialistic values in gain or lose, carries more weight. Be a gatekeeper of the line between darkness and light. Keep doing exercise to alleviate stress from work, to train body fitness so as to keep a clear mind with full energy.

LTA : What brings you the most satisfaction in your practice as a lawyer?

Sun : To me, the most satisfying aspect of being a lawyer is to be able to participate in resolving difficult disputes after another. My motivation came from client’s trust and I believe effective and candid communications with clients are key to success. ♦

 

孫成龙律师从事法律工作近20年,先后担任过解放军某军事法院以及青岛市某法院的刑事、民事法官。2009年开始从事律师工作并担任中国海洋大学的专职法律顾问,主要业务领域涉及国际贸易、民商事合同、劳动争议以及知识产权,对于企业上市以及并购重组业务亦有涉足,担任专职法律顾问的中国海洋大学是一所海洋和水产学科特色显著、学科门类齐全的重点综合性大学。

LTA : 孙律师,您是如何展开法律之旅?

孫律师 :我从青少年开始就对从事法律职业怀有梦想,法律职业是一个展示才华、满足自尊、唤起激情、伸张正义的职业。自2000年毕业于解放军西安政治学院,获得法学学士学位,随后担任法官。

LTA : 孙律师,可以分享一下从事跨境法律业务的感受吗?

孫律师 :自2009年从法官转任律师,我先后担任过几家国际贸易公司的法务,也处理过几起因跨国贸易以及国际海运纠纷引发了商业领域的跨境纠纷。在参与以及处理这些跨境商业纠纷过程中,我深深的感到作为一名从事跨境业务的律师,除了要加强自身学习,不断向国际同行学习跨境法律业务增强处理跨境法律事务的实际经验和能力外,还应在事先为所服务企业在从事跨境商事合作过程中,事前作出风险预判,通过企业之间战备合作协议以及其他合作法律文件,以规避法律风险或在法律纠纷出现后占据主动,防患于未然。

LTA : 孙律师,就处理跨境事务的律师,可否分享一些具体经验?应该特别注意哪些事项?

孫律师 :首先,从事跨境法律业务律师要在参与企业跨境商业活动相关合同的起草和审核工作时,认真规范合同文本、明确合同内容、加强风险控制。
纠纷往往产生于合同约定不明,通过律师在合同文本制作上的专业能力,能够保证合同约定的明确、无歧义,进而保障履行的顺畅,跨境商业活动产生在不同的国家和地域,这方面的工作显得更为重要。在有关商业谈判完成后,签署具有法律约束力的合作协议时,更要争取为自己服务的企业在法律上占有主动拟定相关条款。

我在参加相关企业的国际商业合作谈判时感觉到,企业在进行商业谈判时往往更关注的是合作的内容以及所涉产品以及服务的质量,对于合作过程中可能产生的纠纷往往会考虑的较少,特别双方初始合作比较愉快时,对可能产生的法律风险更加漠视。

以本人所服务一家从事国际贸易的企业为例,其在从事商业厨具的国际贸易中通过国际展会,投入巨大价值开拓积累了北美加拿大以及澳洲新西兰的一批客户资源,由于未能在合作过程中及时签署法律合作文件进行法律约束,导致自己付出具大的价值开发的贸易客户,由于逐渐熟悉中国的国内市场,在后续的交易过程中,客户纷纷流失,公司一度损失惨重却又无能为力。

在后来欧洲市场开拓过程中,吸取了前期的教训,在国际贸易客户开发过程中,及时通过签署企业间的战略合作协议,约定双方的权利、义务,规范了交易对象在国内市场的采购行为及明确了违约责任和争议解决方式,有效避免了客户的流失并成功的防范了国内其他企业的不正当竞争行为,取得了较好的法律效果。

LTA : 孙律师,跨境律師在協助企业选择仲裁机构或通过法庭解决争议时,有什么应该特别注意?

孫律师 :从事跨境法律业务律师要能够利用其专业知识帮助其服务的企业在订立仲裁机构或者管辖法院等争议解决条款和法律适用条款时,充分考虑到服务企业的利益。
随着对外开放进程的深化,企业在国际贸易和境外投资中的范围和规模也在不断扩大。伴随着企业逐年拓展的对外投资,中国企业与外国企业经济活动的开展过程中难免会有经济纠纷。我在参与服务企业的商业谈判时体会到,如果一旦涉及到争议解决条款时,双方都会尽力争取对自己有利的争议解决地或者适用的法律,合作双方都力图将其争议提交本国法院依照本国法律解决,最终妥协的结果是,由于国际商事仲裁的专业性和准司法性,对于合作双方均是纽约公约成员国的国家,都比较倾向于采用国际商事仲裁的方式来解决双方之间的争议。

以我所在中国青岛市为例,作为中国东部沿海重要的经济中心城市和港口城市,青岛是环太平洋西岸重要的国际贸易口岸和海上运输枢纽,与世界130多个国家和地区的450多个港口有贸易往来,港口吞吐量跻身全球前十位,是实施海上丝绸之路、履行国家“一带一路”战略重要的枢纽型城市。

青岛市从事国际贸易和服务的企业众多,同时作为港口城市,每年也都会产生众多的国际航运纠纷,越来越多的企业在商业谈判或者合同文件中,普遍寻求效率高、保密性强的替代性纠纷解决方式比如仲裁来解决商事纠纷,越来越多的青岛企业在进行国际商业活动时倾向于以香港、新加坡、马来西亚作为仲裁争议解决地,同时香港以其高度发达的仲裁法律、法院对仲裁的支持态度及与中国内地的密切联系,成功地从其他亚洲仲裁中心中脱颖而出,越来越多的青岛的商事主体在国际贸易投资活动中会选择在香港进行仲裁。另外,香港特有的临时仲裁方式对国内企业在解决国际商事争议中的高效率也越来越引起国内企业的关注和兴趣。

LTA : 有关跨境律师国际合作,您有什么想法?

孫律师 :从事跨境法律业务律师要注意与国际同行加强交流与合作,受各国法律背景、文化背景、语言沟通等多重因素的影响,律师要了解并精通不同国家和地区的法律制度并非易事,因此从事跨境法律业务律师加强国际律师之间的合作显得更为重要。

当前,随着跨境商业合作与纠纷的增多,从事跨境法律服务的律师事务所也越来越多,尤其是很多大型律师事务所,它们拥有一流的法律从业人员且分工精细,也拥有专业的法律翻译人员,他们能够将外国法律精准地转换为各种语言,律师间通过合作能够帮助当事人打破语言障碍,帮助中国当事人准确了解外国法律的内容。

同时,参加国际诉讼或者仲裁,不但耗费时间和经历,还往往需要支出大量的费用,包括法院诉讼费、仲裁费及律师费等等,加强国际律师之间的合作,了解由于不同法律制度产生的差异,基于案情合理选择合适的国外律师进行合作,对于案件最终的成本控制也极为重要。

LTA : 孙律师,繁琐的法律专业工作很容易令人感到劳累,你是如何在繁忙的工作和生活中找到平衡?平常有什么嗜好?

孫律师 : 把享受亲情和生活当做是紧张执业后放松歇息的港湾。执业中不要把经济利益看得太重,要以心灵的满足而不是功利的得失作为自己从事律师执业的标准,守住黑与白间的界线。日常生活中坚持通过锻炼身体减轻工作压力,坚持运动与健身,以达到工作中保持旺盛的精力。

LTA : 是什么让你有最大的满足感?

孫律师 : 我认为律师执业最大的满足感在于“不断的参与解决一个又一个的矛盾与纠纷”,执业中客户的信任是最大的工作动力,有效而坦诚的沟通是成功的关键。 ♦

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