China / Government

Rules enacted to protect lawyers' role

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-07 07:52

New era begins with fast-track security and better communication with judges

Carrying his laptop and court papers, Pang Zhengzhong quickly passes through the entrance of Beijing No 4 Intermediate People's Court without the security check that he would face in every other court he enters during his working day.

"This saves me much time," said Pang, a Beijing lawyer who specializes in intellectual property cases. "I can also read legal books and judicial materials and search the progress of my cases on the Internet when I am in the intermediate court."

Thanks to a guideline called Protection of Lawyers' Rights, drawn up by the court and issued on Thursday, attorneys can now gather case materials via the Internet and rest during intervals in a special room set aside by the court. There is also a dressing room where lawyers can put on their robes before appearing in court.

Under the requirements for judicial reform put forward by the Chinese leadership in 2013, the intermediate people's court has investigated how it can make life easier for lawyers, hoping to improve the country's judicial credibility, said Wu Zaicun, the court's president.

For this reason, the court decided to provide a "green channel" for lawyers. This allows them entry to the court without the usual security checks if they show the certificate that gives them the right to practice law and their identity card.

Additionally, if lawyers apply for case materials, the court should supply them within three days under the guideline.

A lawyer's personal security will also be protected during a lawsuit, and the court must take action if lawyers are threatened or attacked in court, according to the guideline.

"In the past, I would be criticized by judges if I was late for a trial, even if I had a very good reason. Sometimes, I was even the last person to know a verdict and my opinions were always ignored, because a court didn't think they were important or necessary," said Pang, who is vice-chairman of the Beijing Lawyers Association.

This is the first time in China that a court has published a guideline to regulate the relationship between courts and lawyers. Other courts in cities across the country are carrying out similar pilot projects.

Wu said the measures are aimed at protecting lawyers' rights, respecting their work and building better channels of communication between them and judges.

"In the past, the communication between us and lawyers was too simple and short, or we only talked to each other about an individual case, which led to misunderstandings and was not good for judicial development," Wu said.

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