Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module LAW45115: Private International Law and China

Department: Law

LAW45115: Private International Law and China

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Provide a comprehensive introduction to the major Chinese private international law rules and principles relating to the resolution of cross-border commercial disputes and the way in which China interacts with other jurisdictions in dealing with these disputes;
  • Provide some comparative analysis of the Chinese approaches with the relevant rules and practice in English law and EU law; and
  • Develop research skills on, and contextual awareness of, the debates concerning the relationship between China and other jurisdictions in the regulation of cross-border commercial activities.


  • The module will cover a selection of topics from the following list: • Key issues and concepts in private international law – how it functions in the resolution of cross-border disputes; the commercial context and situations where private international law issues may arise; a general overview of the development of Chinese rules in the relevant fields; • Jurisdiction – the overlapping jurisdictions of courts of different jurisdictions in dealing with cross-border commercial disputes; the circumstances under which a Chinese court obtains jurisdiction over a case and how it determines whether to exercise its jurisdiction or not; the doctrine of forum non conveniens and its application in Chinese courts; • Party autonomy – whether parties can choose a particular court or jurisdiction for the resolution of their disputes and the effects of such choice of jurisdiction clauses / agreements in Chinese courts; • Choice of law – the laws that will be applied by Chinese courts in commercial contracts, property-related issues and tortious issues involving foreign elements; • Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and orders – if parties obtain a judgment or order from a foreign court, whether and how it can be recognized by Chinese courts and enforced in China? • Comparative analysis – the discussion of the above issues will include comparative analysis of the relevant approaches adopted in English law and EU law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module, students will obtain an in-depth knowledge of the relevant legal rules and principles relating to the resolution of cross-border commercial disputes in China.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Understand the context and circumstances under which a cross-border commercial dispute will be resolved in a Chinese court;
  • Recognise the legal rules and principles concerning the resolution of cross-border commercial disputes in China;
  • Advise on the jurisdictional and choice of law issues when engaging in business activities involving China or Chinese parties;
  • Critically analyse the relevant Chinese private international law rules and discuss their future development; and
  • Compare the relevant Chinese approaches with those prevailing in the UK, EU and other jurisdictions, and critically analyse the possibility of, and problems in, judicial cooperation between China and other jurisdictions.
Key Skills:
  • Understand the private international law issues that may arise in doing business in China or with Chinese parties and provide competent legal advice;
  • Communicate key legal concepts and principles to professional and business audiences; and
  • Conduct research and synthesize legal issues and responses in practice.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The teaching of this module will be by way of seminars supported by targeted reading assignments before each session. The readings are selected from both primary and secondary sources, including doctrinal as well as cutting-edge scholarship in the relevant areas, and cases from Chinese courts (translated into English) and other jurisdictions. The seminars will work from a basic level of doctrinal knowledge. Building on that foundation, they will then discuss more complicated and practical issues. This will encourage students to learn the material and develop the ability to discuss it and understand how each aspect of the reading fits in with relevant debates.
  • Seminars will be accompanied by a list of key questions which will guide students in their independent learning. Seminars will then focus on these questions and involve class discussion.
  • The elements of assessment support the aims of the teaching methods. The formative assessment will assist in the preparation of the summative essay. Both the formative and summative essays will assess the extent to which students have developed an overall understanding of the subject matter and issues, and are able to discuss more challenging problems in the relevant fields. They will also assess the ability of students to perform research and comparative analysis in the relevant areas, and to present a structured and articulate argument on the subject.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 weekly 2 hours 16
Preparation & reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 100% y

Formative Assessment:

Students will be required to write an essay of no more than 1500 words on a topic that will be provided in week 2 of the Term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University