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'Urgent and necessary' court reforms suggested

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-29 08:52

Draft insists on independence of judiciary, prohibits case interference

A series of judicial reforms, including the further establishment of intellectual property courts and orders preventing interference in cases by governmental departments, have been added to a draft amendment of the Organic Law of People's Courts for consideration by China's top legislature.

The current law, enacted in 1979, has not kept pace with the country's rapid development of justice, "so the revision is urgent and necessary", said Wang Shengming, vice-chairman of the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress.

The draft amendment was submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for its first review on Monday, arousing the attention of legal professionals.

Several concepts of judicial reform that were promoted by the central leadership since 2013 appear in the draft. For example, intellectual property courts, which were set up in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province in 2014, have been added to the draft.

A rule authorizing the Supreme People's Court to establish circuit courts also appears.

In addition, some reform orders have been upheld in the draft. For instance, Chinese courts must hear cases independently, preventing interference by local government departments, social organizations or individuals-a requirement highlighted as a basic principle in the draft's first section.

The draft has expanded the law to 66 articles from the current 40.

Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said: "Adding the new articles-especially the one requiring the national courts to handle cases independently-in the draft is a big improvement in judicial reform and progress in the rule of law."

Bi Yuqian, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said he is glad to see the draft highlight the goal of removing administrative interference in justice as a fundamental principle.

"In the past, justice in some regions was harmed by local government interference, which not only affected case handling but also damaged judicial credibility."

Both the legal experts said the draft still needs to be more specific.

Also on Monday, another draft amendment to the Organic Law of People's Procuratorate was submitted to the legislature for its first reading.

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