School's in soon for mainland judges on City University course

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2008, 12:00am

City University is to offer a masters of law programme, the first of its kind, for mainland judges to provide them with training in common law and other overseas legal systems.

The programme, which begins in September, will admit 30 mainland judges recommended by the National Judges College, a judges' training unit set up under the People's Supreme Court.

The judges will learn how common-law judges perform legal reasoning and draft judgments and compare other legal systems with their own. They will also study arbitration of international commercial disputes, intellectual property law and other elective subjects.

Wang Guiguo, dean of the university's school of law, said yesterday two retiring High Court judges would be teaching the programme.

The mainland judges will also spend a month at Oxford University learning from British legal experts and taking part in video-link seminars with Michael Reisman, professor at Yale Law School and president of the arbitration tribunal of the Bank for International Settlements.

Professor Wang said that after China's accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, Beijing made many changes to its legal system to meet the challenges of the increasingly globalised world.

'We are not saying that the mainland judges should adopt everything in the common-law system. We are just giving them a choice. They can take on board the good things in the system while retaining the good features of their own system,' he said.

For example, in common law, judges spent much time detailing the chain of thoughts that brought them to their final ruling in a case, whereas in Chinese law, two pages were often enough for a judge to spell out his decision.

Gu Minkang, associate dean of the school of law, said judges, like the other students at City University, had to meet their basic entry requirements.

He believed that most of the judges on the new programme would be relatively young because of the requirement to meet a specified standard of English proficiency.

Professor Gu said the university would offer a full scholarship to 15 of the 30 judges in the first year who would be recommended by the National Judges College.

The school is seeking more financial support for the programme, in the hope of allowing more judges to join scholarships.