China / Society

Regulation on court promotions 'too rigid'

By Gao Qihui (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-15 07:17

A regulation that has led to judge-lawyer couples divorcing to enhance their promotion prospects triggered heated discussion among national legislators.

The regulation, issued by the Supreme People's Court in February 2011, states that a judge whose spouse or child is a lawyer will be barred from promotion for certain positions, such as chief judge of a tribunal, said Li Yalan, a deputy to the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

Li, a lawyer at Heilongjiang Long Dian Law Firm, said she knows couples in which the judge has divorced his lawyer wife so he will be considered for a promotion.

Promotion opportunities are scarce so the couple agrees to divorce for the sake of one spouse's career, she said.

"They may be divorced in terms of law, but are still couples in real life living together with their children as a family," Li said.

Li said one of her friends, a lawyer, and her husband, who has worked as a judge for more than 20 years, divorced in the second half of 2011 after the regulation was issued.

"They are still a family but in a state of divorce in the legal sense unless the regulation is abolished one day. However, some couples are not so lucky as any divorce procedure can weaken a marriage."

This may answer a quesion posed by Wang Ying, a chairwoman of the standing committee of people's congress of Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province. Wang said she was puzzled when she, as a member of a local congress' panel to appoint high-level judges, found some candidates were without a spouse.

"I was curious as to why so many candidates were single," said Wang.

However, the regulation has its supporters.

Yang Zhen, a professor of law, said the regulation was formulated to prevent judges from being unduly influenced by any family connections.

Zhu Zhengfu, vice-president of the All China Lawyers Association, disagreed and said the regulation is too rigid.

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