Dr Mimi Zou is Director of Studies in Law at Regent's Park College and co-founder and Principal Investigator of the Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab.
Her main areas of expertise are in Chinese and comparative contract law, employment law, law and technology, and commercial dispute resolution, with over 60 publications in these fields. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Experts Network in the areas of China, Justice, and Blockchain. From 2017 to 2020, she held the first post in Chinese law at the University of Oxford as Fangda CDF in Chinese Commercial Law, St Hugh's College.
Dr Zou obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in Law and Bachelor of Civil Law (Distinction) degrees from Oxford (St John's College and Christ Church) on a Commonwealth Scholarship and a James Fairfax Oxford Australia Scholarship. She also graduated with first-class honours degrees in Law, Economics, and Social Sciences (University Medal) from the University of Sydney. She has been admitted as a lawyer in the state of New South Wales (Australia) and a solicitor of England and Wales. She has also been called to the Bar of England and Wales.
Her former academic appointments include: Edwards Fellow at Columbia Law School, Assistant Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Senior Researcher at Utrecht University. Dr Zou has also been a visitor at a number of leading Chinese universities and research institutes. She is an editor of the Hong Kong Law Journal (SSCI) and founding series editor of a new collection of monographs on Data Science, Machine Intelligence, and Law (Springer Nature).
She won the 2016 International Association of Labour Law Journals Marco Biagi Prize for Best Paper and was a finalist in the 2016 Taylor & Francis Commonwealth Scholar Best Journal Article Prize. She received the first Innovation in Teaching Award from the Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2015 for pioneering a variety of blended and elearning initiatives. Her research has been cited in an Australian appellate court and several parliamentary inquiries and covered by international media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, China Daily, and South China Morning Post.
Dr Zou has worked or served as an adviser and consultant for international organisations, government departments, and firms in tech and professional services sectors in China, Europe, USA, and Australasia for over 17 years. She provides training on China-related legal, economic, cultural, and strategic issues for senior civil servants, diplomats, officers of the armed forces, lawyers, and business professionals around the world. She is a special adviser to the Great Britain China Centre, a non-departmental public body set up by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, a distinguished expert on the Asia Society Policy Institute Belt and Road Task Force, a founding advisory board member of the Asia Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association, member of the Astana International Financial Centre Legaltech Advisory Board, and a member of IEEE 2863 Working Group. In 2016, the Asia Society named Dr Zou an ‘Asia 21 Young Leader’. She has been a finalist in the UK Asian Women of Achievement Awards, British Council's Education UK Alumni Awards, Young Australian of the Year Awards, Young Women to Watch in International Affairs, and the inaugural 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians Awards.
- Since the 2007 global financial crisis, many have questioned the predominant form of neoliberal capitalism that has underpinned a U.S.-led global economic order since the 1980s. Meanwhile, China’s state capitalism, led by the Chinese Communist Party, has been ascendant. Some have even posited a “Beijing Consensus” as an alternative to the “Washington Consensus.”1 This essay advances the concept of State Capitalism 4.0, which is premised on the Chinese party-state’s control over state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private firms, mediated through regulatory and institutional arrangements and the strategic exploitation of technology. I apply this concept to analyse China’s approach to transnational labor issues as Chinese enterprises expand their activities abroad and mobilize a growing number of Chinese workers transnationally, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Reflecting on the implications of State Capitalism 4.0 for transnational labor law, I argue that the strategic exercise of state regulatory powers can strengthen labor standards through domestic laws and institutions but is antithetical to a core international labor right: freedom of association.This paper provides a critical account of the various roles that labour law regulation has played in China's transition to a market-oriented economy. The analysis aims to contribute new insights to an ongoing debate on the relationship between economic development and legal rules and institutions in China. Discussions of social and labour rights have been on the periphery of a debate that has focused on property and contract rights (the so-called "Rights Hypothesis"). While numerous scholars have sought to debunk the explanatory power of the "Rights Hypothesis" in the case of China, I put forward an alternative "Social Rights Hypothesis". My proposed hypothesis seeks to explain how labour law rules and institutions have co-evolved with the emergence of a labour market in China's economic development. Specifically, labour law has not only played a market-constituting role, but also market-corrective and market-limiting functions.Understanding the key concepts, rules, processes, and practice of Chinese contract law is essential to a wide range of business and commercial activities within and beyond the PRC. The broad aims of this book are to help students and practitioners from jurisdictions outside the PRC develop working knowledge of the general rights and obligations of parties to a contract governed by PRC law and understand the fundamental principles and rules in Chinese contract law for undertaking relevant and informed analysis of practical legal problems facing clients. This book provides a concise, clear, and accessible introduction to this subject area. It covers important aspects of Chinese contract law in terms of general principles, contract formation, interpretation of contractual terms, pre-contractual liability, validity and effectiveness issues, performance, modification, transfer, and assignment of contracts, termination and discharge of contracts, and liability and remedies for breach. The book offers students and practitioners the most up-to-date reference on the main legislative instruments and judicial interpretations that make up the general law of contract in the PRC. In addition, the author has carefully selected around 40 published cases in recent years, mainly from the Supreme People’s Court and higher-level people’s courts (including guiding cases and model/typical cases), to illustrate judicial application of key principles and rules of Chinese contract law in a variety of disputes.It is no understatement that social media has become a ubiquitous feature of our lives. In the People’s Republic of China, the popularity of social media usage continues to grow, particularly in the workplace setting. The vast quantity and range of data generated and shared on social networks, including personal information, have become a valuable resource for employers to screen job applicants, monitor work performance, and investigate employee wrongdoings. Developments in workplace surveillance technologies have also made it easier for employers to track, monitor, and access employees’ online activities. The legitimacy of employers’ inquiry into the online lives of job applicants and employees is often justified on the basis of business concerns about reputational risks, leakage of intellectual property and trade secrets, and other legal liabilities that could arise from employees’ social media activities. This article probes into a number of important regulatory challenges arising from employers’ access to and use of social media in China. It starts with an analysis of the extent to which privacy and data protection laws in China, including relatively recent developments in the Cyber Security Law and the General Rules of Civil Law, protect employees’ rights in this context. I then examine relevant cases brought before local courts that reveal how employers have accessed and made use of employees’ social media communications in a variety of common circumstances. From this analysis, three significant issues remain unresolved by lawmakers and the courts: unlawful discrimination arising from the use of social media in recruitment; employee speech that may harm an employer’s business and reputational interests; and off-duty social media communications of employees. I conclude that extant regulatory gaps provide much scope for employers in China to monitor and inquire into employees’ social media activities, especially in light of the power asymmetries in the employment relationship.The term 'fissured workplace' has been coined by David Weil to describe fundamental changes in the organisation of work arising from firms' competitive strategies in the 21st century. As Weil put it, fissurisation refers to 'both a form of employment (for example, temporary agency employment; independent contracting) and a relationship between different business enterprises (subcontracting, franchising)'. In a fissured workplace that may have multiple legal entities intertwined in a range of complex contractual relationships, the notion of the 'employer' and thus the question of who should bear the legal responsibilities of an employer become extremely problematic. This paper examines the evolving phenonmenon of the fissured workplace in China and the regulatory dynamics of Chinese labour law in addressing the challenges of fissurisation over the past three decades. In the current phase of China's economic downturn, accelerating trends of fissurisation have brought to the forefront some major challenges for policymakers arising from the broader social consequences of fissured workplaces. The paper focuses on the notion of the 'employer' in Chinese labour law, particularly how policymakers in recent years have sought to regulate the use of labour dispatch as a prevalent manifestation of fissurisation in China.There has been nascent litigation around the world on the employment classification of workers in the ‘sharing economy’, ‘gig economy’ or ‘on demand economy’. New business models and forms of work organization arising from rapid advancements in digital technologies (or ‘disruptive innovation’ as some have described the phenomenon) have sparked considerable debate on a wide array of regulatory issues, including the role of labour law protections for the emergent ‘digital workforce’. This debate is currently taking place in the People’s Republic of China. This article analyses how Chinese courts and lawmakers have addressed issues that are directly or indirectly relevant to determining the status of drivers in the ride-hailing sector. Despite the presence of criteria for identifying a ‘labour relationship’ under Chinese labour law, the courts have not adopted a uniform approach across different types of claims involving these drivers. A new government regulation on the ride-hailing sector, which took effect in November 2016, has not resolved this issue as it permits ride-hailing platform companies to enter into labour contracts and other forms of agreements with drivers based on the particularities of their work arrangements. In considering these recent cases and regulatory developments, the article concludes that a purposive approach to the existing criteria in Chinese labour law for ascertaining the status of workers in the sharing economy is useful for addressing the basic question of whether they should be protected, rather than creating ‘new’ categories of employment classification.In our time of globalisation, the admission of migrant workers is one of the most debated public policy issues around the world. Over the past two decades, temporary migrant workers programmes (TMWPs) have expanded across all sectors and both ends of the skills spectrum in numerous advanced industrialised countries. These TMWPs are commonly based on a demand-driven model of employer sponsorship aimed at filling shortages in the local labour market on a short-term basis. Assessing employers’ claims in relation to ‘skills’ and ‘shortages’ is often a highly contested component of regulating admission under TMWPs. The admission criteria and processes of such schemes can have significant implications for the interests of and relations between different migrants, local workers, and employers in the host state. This chapter examines the regulatory challenges arising from the conditions of entry under the United Kingdom’s employer-sponsored Tier 2 (General) visa scheme, including the number of migrants admitted, the occupations, sectors, and geographical areas where they are recruited, as well as migrants’ skills and attributes. Employers may desire a laissez faire model of employer-led admission where they can freely decide who and how many migrant workers to admit. Yet, as reforms to the admission criteria under Tier 2 (General) visa scheme in recent years suggest, other competing policy considerations may prevail such as the interests of resident workers in having privileged access to the labour market and in ensuring these schemes are not used to undercut their wages and working conditions.Chinese multinational enterprises (MNEs) are emerging as increasingly influential actors in the global political economy. Since the late 1990s, China has adopted a ‘Going Out’ industrialisation policy entailing the accelerated internationalisation of Chinese firms to acquire assets and expand business operations abroad. The centrepiece of the forthcoming phase of the ‘Going Out’ strategy is the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR or ‘Belt and Road’) initiative, aimed at fostering closer economic connectivity between China and over 60 other countries with an emphasis on infrastructure and transportation projects. With the rapid expansion of Chinese outbound investments, there have been growing controversies over the social impacts on host countries. The conduct of Chinese state-owned enterprises and private firms investing along the ‘Belt and Road’ are likely to be subject to ever increasing scrutiny. OBOR has also been seen by some as a geo-political strategy that reflects China’s desire for a bigger role in global affairs. As such, there may be increasing expectations among the international community that China should ensure that its firms act as ‘good corporate citizens’ abroad. Indeed, unfavourable consequences for China’s image have already prompted the government to introduce regulations, guidelines, and policies in recent years that aim to govern the conduct of Chinese MNEs. There has also been an emerging set of corporate social responsibility schemes and codes of conduct adopted by Chinese MNEs and industry groups, often with the involvement of government authorities. This paper addresses a critical issue that arises as to the ways in which the world’s largest industrialising economy, in pursuing a new industrial development strategy that will broaden its role in global markets and production networks as well as its potential geo-political influence, may shape the governance of international labour standards. Could China (including its public and private actors) become a new standard-setter?DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dww032The claimant, Ms Hounga, travelled to the United Kingdom from Nigeria in 2007. She was then aged around 14. Upon her arrival, the claimant was granted a visitor visa on the ground that her purpose for being in the United Kingdom was to see relatives. In fact, the claimant had intended to study and work illegally for the respondents, Mr and Mrs Allen. The claimant worked as an au pair for the respondents, who were complicit in the claimant's immigration offences, although they neither paid her nor, as promised, provided her with education. The respondents' treatment of the claimant was, on any measure, highly exploitative. It included physical abuse. Eventually, the claimant was dismissed from her employment, whereupon she brought several claims against the respondents, including a claim in the statutory tort of race discrimination with respect to her dismissal (s 4(2)(c) of the Race Relations Act 1976 (now s 39(2)(c) of the Equality Act 2010)). The Employment Tribunal upheld that claim. The respondents relied on the illegality defence but the Tribunal found that it was inapplicable. The respondents' appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal was dismissed. The Court of Appeal ( IRLR 685) reversed the findings below, holding that the illegality defence applied because the discrimination was inextricably linked with the claimant's illegal conduct. The claimant appealed to the Supreme Court.Population ageing raises concern regarding the quality of end of life care (EOLC), not only for people with cancer but for all dying of end stage chronic diseases, particularly for dementia. Medical ethical principles, legal and cultural factors affect the quality of end of life care. This article discusses how these three factors currently contribute to EOLC in Hong Kong, in the context of differing trajectories of development in China, other Asian countries, and the USA. EOLC for non cancer patients has only recently been highlighted, where ethical, legal, and cultural issues are being debated. Although there is no statute or case law that directly govern the legal status of advance directives in Hong Kong, a validly made advance directive is generally recognized at common law. However, there is a range of other legal barriers to providing EOLC according to medical ethical principles. There is little discussion among health care providers or the public regarding advance directives, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, or withdrawal of life support, particularly for those with dementia. It is hoped that a continuing medical ethics discourse regarding EOLC issues may provide momentum to overcome current inertia or avoidance of EOLC issues, such that population aging may not be accompanied by increasingly poor quality of care in the dying process.IN Hounga v Allen  UKSC 47;  1 W.L.R. 2889, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a claim in the statutory tort of discrimination by a woman who had been dismissed from her employment. The fact that the woman had been working in breach of immigration laws did not enliven the illegality defence. Hounga is one of several recent cases in which the illegality defence has been examined at the ultimate appellate level, the other decisions being Gray v Thames Trains Ltd  UKHL 33;  1 A.C. 1339, Stone & Rolls Ltd v Moore Stephens  UKHL 39;  A.C. 1391, and Les Laboratoires Servier v Apotex Inc  UKSC 55;  3 W.L.R. 1257. The fact that the defence has been considered so frequently as of late at the apex level seems to confirm that the Law Commission was wrong in its prediction, made shortly after Gray and Moore Stephens were decided, that the defence would be brought into a satisfactory state if responsibility for reforming it was left to the courts (The Illegality Defence (Law Com 320, 2010), at [3.37]–[3.41]). We are not alone in holding this view. Writing extra-judicially, Lord Mance and Lord Sumption have called for the Law Commission to re-examine the defence (J. Mance, “Ex Turpi Causa – When Latin Avoids Liability” (2014) 18 Edinburgh Law Review 175, 192; J. Sumption, “Reflections on the Law of Illegality” (2012) 20 Restitution Law Review 1, 8–12). We argue here that Hounga perpetuates (and possibly aggravates) the difficulties from which this area of law suffers.he two key concepts developed in this article, ‘hyper-dependence’ and ‘hyper-precarity’, are aimed at drawing attention to the constitutive role of immigration law in shaping certain vulnerabilities in migrants’ work relations. Immigration law is not merely concerned with controlling the entry and exit of migrants, but also creates personal legal statuses – some highly precarious – that shape their employment and residence in the host state. The two ‘hyper’ concepts seek to elucidate the most problematic features of Temporary Migrant Worker Programmes (TMWPs) currently found in a number of advanced industrialized, liberal democratic countries. Hyper-dependence refers to a particular tie of migrant workers to their employers as a requirement of their legal status. Hyper-precarity refers to the tenuous nature, in law and practice, of these workers’ entitlements to employment protection, social rights, and transition to more secure residence status. In some circumstances both hyper-dependence and hyper-precarity can combine to give rise to extremely exploitative situations for migrants at work. This article explores possible normative constraints on states’ design and implementation of TMWPs. It identifies two genres of normative interventions that may respond to the legal construction of hyper-precarity and hyper-dependence: first, the international human rights framework, and second, the discourse against forms of exploitation that could be regarded as ‘unfree labour’. However, it is argued that neither of the discourses poses a fundamental challenge to host states’ powers to create the precarious statuses of non-citizens admitted into their territory, nor do they tackle the complex realities of migrants’ work relations on a continuum of exploitation.The expression of ‘crossing a river by feeling the stones’ (mozhe shitou guo he), popularised by Deng Xiaoping, is commonly evoked by Chinese policy-makers to promote a cautious, gradual, and selective approach to reform that takes into account ‘Chinese characteristics’ (zhongguo teshe). Over the past three decades, the framework for regulating collective labour relations in China appears to have evolved in this manner. However this approach may not be able to respond to the rapidly changing currents of China’s new market economy that have generated conflicting interests between labour and capital. The continued absence of genuine collective labour representation mechanisms at the workplace/enterprise level has seen the escalation of labour disputes in various forms and on different scales. The implementation of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) fundamental principles and rights at work concerning freedom of association and collective bargaining would constitute an important step towards addressing the structural deficiencies in China’s collective labour relations framework by providing a vehicle for worker voice and for a fairer distribution of economic gains. This would strengthen the foundation for sound labour market governance based on a new approach of ‘crossing the river by building a bridge’ (dajian qiaoliang guo he).This contribution examines the transfer of employment relations policies and practices from the domestic operations of the Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) in Ulsan, Korea to its joint venture in China, the Beijing Hyundai Motors Company (BHMC). An integrated ‘political economy’ theoretical framework is used to analyse the complex interaction of institutional, strategic and micro-political forces that have shaped the hybrid model of employment relations at BHMC. The study shows that the transfer of policies and practices from Ulsan to Beijing has been influenced not only by institutional differences between the home and host countries and the strategies pursued by HMC management, but also by the political contests between various actors within and outside BHMC. Our research findings show that HMC headquarters has sought to maintain control over employment relations at BHMC through the transfer of its core policies and practices from its Korean operations to BHMC. However, a hybrid model has emerged at BHMC with some notable differences to HMC's Ulsan plant. Utilising an integrated political economy perspective, this contribution has shown that BHMC's employment relations policies and practices have been shaped and conditioned by a complex interplay of institutional and market forces, strategic choices and ongoing political contests between various actors within and beyond BHMC.
My current research programmes focus on deep technologies (new AI, blockchain, data-based technologies) in the legal sector with a focus on dispute resolution, as well as commercial law issues in the contexts of China’s digital economy and Chinese outbound foreign investments.
Options taughtContract, Tort
News articles for Mimi Zou28 Sep 2020
First-ever comprehensive study on Lawtech and Sustainable Development Goals12 Jun 2020
Renmin and Oxford scholars present collaborative research to Chinese policymakers01 Jun 2020
Legal and Technology Industry Leaders Join Deep Tech Dispute Resolution Lab Advisory Board14 Apr 2020
Mimi Zou interviewed for article on China's unemployment safety net25 Mar 2020
Mimi Zou included in 'Young Women to Watch in International Affairs' list12 Sep 2019
Dr Mimi Zou named one of the ‘40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians’18 Jun 2018
Launch of the Oxford Chinese Law Discussion Group
Blog posts by Mimi Zou15 Jun 2020
A Milestone in China’s Civil Law System: the Passage of its First Civil Code
By Mimi Zou, Oxford Law FacultyOxford Business Law Blog16 Mar 2020
Virtual Justice in the Time of COVID-19
By Mimi Zou, Oxford Law FacultyOxford Business Law Blog02 Jul 2019
China’s legal system 40 years on: where to next?
By Yuxue Fang | Mimi ZouChinese Law Discussion Group07 Jun 2019
In Code(r) We Trust? Rethinking ‘Trustless’ Smart Contracts
By Mimi Zou, Oxford Law Faculty | Grace Cheng | Marta Soria HerediaOxford Business Law Blog08 Feb 2019
Regulating for Competitiveness? Perspectives from Tax, Banking, and Employment Law
By Mimi Zou | Yue Dai | Jacob SchumacherChinese Law Discussion Group24 Dec 2018
Chatham House Podcast - China and the Future of the International Order
By Mimi ZouChinese Law Discussion Group06 Nov 2018
“Journey to the West”: Tim Clissold on Corporate Governance of Chinese Firms
By Xiao Mao | Mimi ZouChinese Law Discussion Group11 Apr 2018
Law and Autonomous Systems Series: Innovation without Authorisation? The Regulatory ‘Black Box’ of Cryptocurrencies in China
By Mimi Zou, Oxford Law FacultyOxford Business Law Blog
Events organised by Mimi Zou