Chicago Journal of International Law

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Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of International Commercial Courts (ICCs) across the globe. ICCs are specialized tribunals within the domestic court hierarchy tailored for the adjudication of complicated cross-border commercial disputes. Most ICCs share similar features, such as a set of flexible procedural rules comparable to those in international arbitration, multilingual court proceedings, and the recruitment of overseas judges or foreign legal experts.

The global phenomenon calls for a systematic comparative study of the different generations of ICCs and their power dynamics. This Article will offer a unique typological framework to study the evolution of ICCs. In particular, emphasis will be placed on the power dynamics among the ICCs such as horizontal power dynamics among the ICCs inter se, and diagonal power dynamics between the ICCs and international arbitration. This Article argues that the most apt characterization of the two dimensions of power dynamics is “co-opetition,” a combination of “cooperation / collaboration / complementarity” and “competition.” While a race for cases and foreign litigants is inevitable, we argue that there is significant room for inter-regional cooperation and coordination to allow for and capitalize on different ICC niches and specialties.

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