Iran and China Judicial Ties: The ongoing process

Iran, likewise any other states within the international community has been entered into numerous bilateral treaties in terms of judicial matters in order to pave the path of legal and judicial collaboration and facilitate the enforcement of rule of law with other states with due respect to sovereignty and mutual interest; among which is the treaty signed between Iran and China which has been enacted as the law by the Iranian Parliament on 18 October 2016 under the name “The Law of Judicial Assistance in relation to Civil and Commercial Matters between Islamic Republic of Iran and People’s Republic of China” (hereinafter referred to as “The Judicial Assistance Law”/ “JAL”).

Having been ratified and subsequently approved by the Expediency Council (as a few articles were subject of disagreement by the Guardian Council), the JAL has been notified to the President in line with Principles 123 and 125 of Constitution which provides “The President of Iran has the duty to sign the legislations that are approved by the Parliament, […]. He must then send them to those responsible for their enforcement. All the treaties, agreements, and contracts between the government of Iran and other governments as well as all the pacts related to the international unions, after they are approved by the Parliament, must be signed by the President or his legal representative.”

In terms of substance, JAL entails judicial assistance in the fields of notification of judicial documents, obtaining evidence, recognition and enforcement of courts’ judgements and arbitration verdicts, information exchange in regards to laws and etc. For instance, according to Article 3(2) while providing for Judicial Support, it articulates that “The courts of a state party shall not oblige the nationals of other state party to deposit a security for the proceeding costs merely on the basis that they are foreigners or their domicile or residence are not located within its territory”, thus it seems that if a Chinese national launch a claim in the Iranian courts as a plaintiff, the court shall not accept the request of Iranian defendant obliging the plaintiff to deposit a security for foreign national’s claim.

Iran and China bilateral judicial ties has not stopped at the level of the stated treaty as both states have moved forward and signed the “Joint Statement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” almost concurrently with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the full text of which has been declared in the official presidential website on 23 January 2016.

The respective mutual statement which is considered of a MoU nature – envisaging a general framework – rather than a binding contract/treaty (which has yet to take place), provides for mutual collaboration in several different domains including further mutual judicial cooperation by stating that “Both sides shall enhance their judicial cooperation in all fields and through exchanging high-ranking delegations and specialized cooperation as well as the Extradition Treaty, and the Agreements on Mutual Judicial Assistance in Criminal Affairs and Mutual Judicial Assistance in Civil and Commercial Affairs they shall strengthen their consultations and cooperation. They shall also strengthen the cooperation between their law-enforcement institutions in various areas including the training of law-enforcement personnel.” as per Clause D-13.

While the destiny of the respective statement is unknown so far, it has set the road for further and long-term collaboration between two states in the coming future as apparently the parties intend to conclude a bilateral 25-year Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement according to Clause A-6.

Submitted by Dr. Mahnaz Mehrinfar and Mrs. Golsa Daghighi