Durham University recruits Chinese law specialists in bid to make wannabe lawyers more ‘internationalised’

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As it looks to add further modules

Credit: Durham University Law School

In today’s global legal market, it’s fair to say your average City lawyer-to-be should be well-versed in multijurisdictional matters. With that in mind, Durham University Law School is bidding to make its graduates more “internationalised” through the creation of a new Centre for Chinese Law and Policy.

Officially launched this week, the interdisciplinary centre is the brainchild of the law school’s dean, Professor Thom Brooks, who himself is a former international student. It will provide, according to Brooks, research-led teaching and will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK — totalling over 60 members of staff (and counting).

Durham Law School already offers its LLB’ers the option to complete a ‘Chinese legal system’ module in their final year, while masters students can complete a ‘Private International Law and China’ module during the LLM. Building on this, Brooks ramped up the number of Chinese law academics, hiring three full-time professors in the past year, and is currently on the lookout for a fourth. As part of the hike in headcount, the university plans to build on its existing offering by launching new modules as further staff join the LLB and LLM courses.

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Commenting on the launch of the centre, Professor Brooks told Legal Cheek:

“Our building a new major research centre in Chinese law puts us squarely in the company of the premier global law schools in China and beyond with the ability to forge exchanges of staff and students, embark on joint PhD programmes and develop research projects unlike any other law school in the UK.”

However, Durham Law School isn’t the first to tap into the realm of Chinese law. A number of UK universities offer the course option. SOAS, University of London, for example, offers its LLB’ers the option to take Chinese law in their penultimate or final year, with students learning the laws of China’s past and present. Some universities have taken this a step further. The University of Sheffield offers a four-year LLB that includes one year of study abroad in China.

This isn’t the Russell Group law school’s first attempt to globalise its course offering. In May last year, we reported that Durham had teamed up with global legal education training provider BARBRI to offer a ten-month New York and California bar course.

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Chinese law is basically corrupt, unpredictable and involves the theft of IP rights by the Communist party.

What a joke



Chinese Procedure Rules 1:

(1) Litigants must pay sums equivalent to 100% of the value of the litigation to Court officials prior to commencement, after commencement and upon conclusion of proceedings.

(2) Litigants who fall to comply with rule 1 (1) must present themselves for summary execution for the offence of corruption.






So why do some big law firms such as Hogan Lovells, Freshfields, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Allen Overy all open office in China? Some of them have even more than two offices there. If this is really a joke as you said, perhaps the partners of these law firms are idoits.



Hmm those international students pay a lot of money so this is not surprising



Unless there is a Chinese law qualification at the end it seems pointless. Now instead of thinking they can advise on UK matters, students will think they know the ins and outs of Chinese law too.



What’s so pointless about having extra opportunities to learn about a major foreign legal system few others have in their degrees? Every university should be doing this.



Bit of the runs this morning. Reading this has not helped.



Is there law in China?



Know thine enemy



“LLBers” is NOT a word!



Agreed. “Law students” should be sufficiently descriptive in this context.



what a ghastly idea



I haven’t taken LLB Chinese law when I was at Durham, as it was not there. But based on my experience in China, Chinese law is something that is “developing” in contents and procedurally. I am not sure how the module is organized, but I don’t think learning contents will help a lot because it is bound to change very soon.

Besides, Chinese courts are not something you truly want to rely on, especially if you are a foreigner. Chinese people come to London for dispute resolution, not the other way around. You don’t become internationalized by learning laws of other jurisdiction. English law is already very international. How about learning how civil law system works alongside the common law system? That is much broader and more fitting for LLBs than specific Chinese legal system module.


Diane Abbot's Campaign Manager

I took a chinese legal system course and the core theme was whether there is rule of law and judicial independence in china, with readings from jerome cohen, randall peerenboom, stanley lubman etc.

There was very little on the side of how exactly the system works other than a superficial examination of each political/judicial organ and their place in the hierarchy.

I think the way to go for these modules is to be as theoretical/comparative as possible to widen potential audience, and to justify it’s place in an English LLB.



My wise friend, China is using the continental law sytem a.k.a civil law system.



To any students who think this module will increase their chances of getting a TC, as a current trainee I can guarantee that it won’t. In practice, any Chinese law issues on a deal will always be dealt with by local counsel in China (or by your firm’s office in China). In London, you will just project manage and compile the advice received from local counsel in other countries. It will not benefit your work to know about other legal systems, except in rare circumstances (i.e. you are dual qualified in English and New York law and are working on New York law matters in New York).



You cannot practice law in China unless you are a Chinese national. Foreign lawyers working in China cannot advise on Chinese law issues. The special visa is needed and renewed every year. The knowledge is no doubt useful, but if you are not really practicing it following graduation, if your intention is to practice law, then this is pretty pointless. Issues involving foreign companies are always dealt by Chinese lawyers in China.

In terms of enforcement of judgement, they are getting better. Increasingly, OEM manufacturing contracts are drafted in Chinese for better enforcement. However, if the jurisdiction clause states English law, then it will be a pain to enforce it in China and it takes too long.



Would you not also need to learn Mandarin as well to make any use of the module?



We should do that in the UK.

It would solve the unemployed lawyer issue in a flash.



Seems a great idea to provide familiarity to all students of such an important legal system. Everybody gets exposed to Contract Law. Very few will get exposed to anything like this. It’s a clear advantage – with Hong Kong and Singapore key places to practice (and In English).

Also seems great for international students going back to Hong Kong, etc to qualify as some familiarity to Chinese law in a research centre is surely an advantage over others who didn’t get that during their degrees. Hope this model becomes a lot more popular for everybody.



Hong kong and singaporean system are completely different from China’s. You could practice in either without any knowledge of the PRC. I don’t see how it’s an advantage other than trivia


shaking my head

Not when the Chinese legal system is vastly different from those of Hong Kong and Singapore, which are both based on English jurisprudence. Figure out.



Can the Durtards stop downvoting the comments that point out that this initiative confers no employability boost whatsoever on Durham graduates?



I am durham alumnus and i am not downvoting anything. My comment is above as well, pointing out problems. I think its someone else, not the students



Doxbridge man

Pop your t shirt collars and wear red trousers



China has no law, properly so called. It is a corrupt and evil dictatorship



I agree, politically incorrect as it may be.

Let’s consider the following:

– Censored internet
– No freedom of the press
– No political parties independent of the Communist Party
– Death penalty widely enforced
– One child policy and forced abortions.

But… they make all our consumer goods on the cheap…


We’ll just look the other way…



Not to mention “re-education” camps for Muslims!





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