Since its birth in December 2019, with only 85 founding members, the Beijing-headquartered Belt and Road International Lawyers Association (BRILA) has grown into the world's sixth largest international lawyers' organization with nearly 1,800 group and individual members from 54 countries.
With the great support of the Ministry of Justice, the association operated smoothly over the past year, according to Kang Yu, the association's secretary-general, who noted that the association is acting as a platform for legal practitioners both at home and abroad to serve Belt and Road construction.
With the establishment of two branches in Shaanxi province's capital city Xi'an and Guangzhou in southern province Guangdong in December 2020, the association is expected to not only promote the development of regional foreign-related legal services but also offer a one-stop and multi-channel solution to commercial and trade disputes arising over the course of the Belt and Road construction.
Despite the negative impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the association still managed to provide its members with high-quality services including legal consulting and litigation and non-litigation services in 2020.
Since joining the association, Shaanxi's lawyers association, for example, has cooperated with overseas partners in successfully resolving multiple cross-border disputes, sparing no efforts to minimize the impact of the pandemic on export-oriented enterprises.
Likewise, the association also helped law firms in Guangzhou with their overseas business. "We managed to consult Chinese enterprises intending to invest in Ethiopia after negotiating with Ethiopian law firms which are also BRILA members," said Li Gang, a Guangzhou-based lawyer, who added that the association allows them to build cooperation with foreign law firms without conducting background checks beforehand.
Noting the difference between nations in issues like application of the law and rules of evidence, Chen Weiwei, a lawyer with a Jiangsu-based law firm which is also a member of the association, said that the association is playing an outstanding role in facilitating efficient negotiations between its members.
He hoped that members can make full use of the association to better study the legal frameworks of Belt and Road nations.
Looking forward, Kang disclosed that the association is about to set up 32 working groups made up of both Chinese and foreign lawyers and eight special committees in an effort to serve the construction of the Belt and Road in a better way.
What's more, the association's official website containing both Chinese and English versions was launched recently.