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Workload for judges addressed

By ZHOU WENTING (China Daily) Updated : 2017-03-14

Shanghai calculates proper number of cases and assistants required

Shanghai has calculated how many cases a judge can handle per year to find a solution to the ongoing problem with judges' workloads, the city's top judge said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions.

"After measuring the effective working hours and the average time spent on every case by the more than 1,000 judges in Shanghai last year, we found that the number of cases handled by a judge should be 134 a year," Cui Yadong, president of the Shanghai High People's Court, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

If they work overtime for two hours every working day, the number rises to 168, and if each judge has an average of 1.75 assistants, the number climbs to 210, he said.

"But take Shanghai as an example. Trials of more than 710,000 cases were concluded last year. There was severe overwork," said Cui, adding that the number of cases handled by the courts has risen by around 15 percent every year in the past three years.

Thirty-six judges died last year nationwide due to constant overwork, Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, said on Sunday when delivering the Work Report of the Supreme People's Court.

Others decided to leave under the heavy workload. In Shanghai, latest figures from the municipal Party committee showed that 86 judges quit in 2014, and in Beijing more than 500 legal officers have resigned in the past five years, according to Mu Ping, former president of the Beijing High People's Court.

"Under such circumstances, we came up with the idea of making the calculation because the quality and efficiency of handing the cases are two important elements of ensuring fairness and justice for the people," Cui said.

"Efficiency serves as an important support for judicial justice, and belated justice will impair the authority and credibility of judicial work," he continued.

Cui said the result of their calculation will be provided to the country's top court for reference, and he suggested recruiting more judges to match the increasing number of cases.

"We also hope to see more assistants shoulder tasks such as pretrial exchanges of evidence and filing documentation on the cases so that judges can focus on hearing cases," Cui said.

Last year 1,900 judicial assistants were employed in Shanghai and on average a judge has 1.75 assistants, but Cui suggested judges have at least two or three assistants.

More than 140,000 cases in Shanghai were handled by presidents of courts and heads of tribunals in 2016, and the number has been rising by 20 percent year-on-year. It was also an attempt to ease the burden on judges.

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