Containers at a port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on Jan 22, 2023. [Photo/VCG]
On March 1, the Qingdao Maritime Court in Shandong province opened a space specifically to deal with maritime affairs in the Qingdao pilot free trade zone. The aim is to offer efficient legal services to support opening-up and enhance maritime law in the country.
The area is comprised of two courtrooms and is the first of its kind to be established by a maritime court in a pilot free trade zone in China.
The Qingdao Area of the China (Shandong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, also known as the Qingdao FTZ, is located in the Qingdao West Coast New Area, which covers an area of 52 square kilometers.
Zhang Dongqing, a member of the Qingdao Maritime Court's leading Party members group, said that the establishment of the space is a milestone in the development of the court, saying that it will tread a new path in the integration of maritime law with the development of pilot free trade zones. "It will handle foreign maritime and commercial cases and promote maritime law to ensure businesses operating in the Qingdao FTZ conduct operations legally," Zhang said.
Additionally, the space will lead the allocation of foreign-related maritime resources, resolve disputes and support the training of foreign legal specialists, he added.
In collaboration with the Qingdao FTZ, the Qingdao Maritime Court has released guides on model contracts and trial cases to help shipping and port businesses conduct foreign trade. Previously, eight model contracts had been made available on the Shandong Port Group's contract management platform. A subsidiary of the Shandong Port Group, the Qingdao Port successfully claimed its right of a maritime lien over a contract worth 200 million yuan ($28.6 million) by using a model contract for reference.
Since its establishment in 2019, the Qingdao FTZ has been committed to creating a free and convenient business environment to develop foreign trade and logistics and attract investment, capital and personnel. It set up a legal service center with strong support from the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Qingdao Municipal Committee, local courts and procuratorates, universities and colleges and other organizations.
Currently, the center has a foreign-related trial circuit court, an intellectual property circuit court, a foreign-related commercial court, an international arbitration center, an international commercial mediation center and a public legal service center. The result is a one-stop public legal service system for free trade.
Xia Xu, the general manager of China Marine Bunker (PetroChina) Company's Qingdao branch, applauded the efforts of the Qingdao FTZ to create a legal and law-based business environment. He said he appreciated the center's collaboration with legal services, which addresses a number of concerns. He added that he hoped the FTZ would continue to improve its legal system, create a fair, open, transparent market rule, and ensure a rule-of-law business environment.