The Changsha Intermediate Court recently ruled on whether the arbitration clause in a share transfer agreement had a binding effect on the petitioner – who was a controlling shareholder of a public company – and a company to which he had intended to transfer his shares. The validity of the arbitration clause hinged on whether a director of the public company who had signed the share transfer agreement on the petitioner's behalf could express the petitioner's intention to arbitrate.
It is generally accepted that when a claim or a debt is assigned, the arbitration agreement attached thereto is also assigned. However, the Supreme People's Court has opined that an arbitration clause contained in a contract for carriage of goods by sea was not binding on an insurer that stepped into the shoes of the insured consignee by way of subrogation.
The Supreme People's Court recently issued a direction that an arbitral award should be refused recognition and enforcement as the arbitration concerned an inheritance dispute and was therefore not arbitrable. However, a request for a declaration of title to a 50% equity share in a company by way of succession could be characterized as a commercial matter.
The Supreme People's Court has upheld the Chinese courts' first decision on an arbitral award issued by a truncated tribunal. Recognition and enforcement were refused in accordance with Article V(1)(d) of the New York Convention. However, Chinese arbitration law and practice do not absolutely reject an arbitral award issued by a truncated tribunal.
For the first time since China acceded to the New York Convention in 1987, a foreign arbitration award has been refused recognition and enforcement in China on public policy grounds. Although the court apparently intended to set a precedent on these grounds, the case leaves open a number of significant questions.