China / Government

Draft plans for regional, circuit courts approved

By Xu Wei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-03 07:26

Reform proposals are seen as way to ensure justice, judicial independence

China's government group responsible for implementing reforms has approved draft plans to set up circuit courts and courts with jurisdiction across different regions in a move to further ensure judicial justice and independence.

The plans, approved on Tuesday by the seventh meeting of the Leading Group for Overall Reform, led by President Xi Jinping, will enable the Supreme People's Court to set up circuit courts that represent its authority, and permit the establishment of cross-regional courts and procuratorates, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The establishment of circuit courts by the top court to hear administrative, civil and commercial cases will help the judicial authority better connect with the grassroots and make it more convenient for the parties involved in cases to have their voices heard during the proceedings, according to a statement released after the meeting.

Meanwhile, the setting up of cross-regional courts and procuratorates will help prevent interference from administrative authorities during trials, it said. The ultimate goal is to form a judicial structure in which special cases will be heard at the cross-regional courts, and common cases will be heard at regional courts, the statement added.

The circuit courts and cross-regional courts and procuratorates will be first set up at some regions as part of an effort to form a system ready to be enforced nationwide, it said.

The decision to set up the circuit courts of the top court and multiregional courts and procuratorates was made during the fourth plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee in October. Advancing the rule of law was a key issue at the meeting.

The Leading Group for Overall Reform was set up after the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, held in November 2013, to design, arrange and coordinate the reforms, and supervise the implementation of reform plans.

Hu Yunteng, a member of the judicial committee of the top court, told People's Daily that the circuit courts will assume the jurisdiction power representing the top court, which means the decisions made by the circuit courts will be final.

Hu said the top court has to give verdicts to more than 10,000 cases each year and the number is increasing.

"The measure will also alleviate the pressure on the court and give it more time to carry out judicial interpretations," he said.

Bi Yuqian, director of the civil procedure law research institute under the China University of Political Science and Law, said the fact that the country's administrative regions and judicial regions coincide has contributed greatly to regional protectionism.

"The regional courts are relying on the regional governments as their financial sources. Ensuring their independence is a must to ensure the fairness of their judicial procedures," he said, adding that the problem of administrative interference is most severe at intermediate courts.

However, Bi said that the new plans are only the first step.

"To make it a formal procedure would involve a number of law amendments, including to the Constitution," he said.


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