Judicial reform highlighted in advancing ‘rule of law’
The Supreme People’s Court (SPC), China’s highest court, has drafted plans on deepening judicial reform on Chinese courts, SPC Vice-President Li Shaoping said at a seminar held in Beijing on Dec 3.
Li said the top court has already seen positive initial results in implementing the Chinese central leadership’s requirements on reform.
I. Modern management models and new operation mechanisms for judicial power piloted in some courts
Li said Chinese courts have been improving their operation mechanisms governing judicial powers and accountability, such as allowing investigators to make initial judgments while the judge holds accountability for case outcomes. At present, some courts at intermediate or grassroots levels and the newly-established circuit courts, intellectual property tribunals and trans-regional courts are exploring modern management models and new operation mechanisms to optimize the structure of judicial powers. Issuance of judgment documents has been reformed and case handling procedures have been improved. Also, job responsibilities of judges, judges’ assistants and court clerks have been clearly defined, while a liability tracing system overseen by a disciplinary committee of judges has seen improvements.
II. 25 provinces set up unified information disclosure platforms
Li pointed out that judicial openness is essential for promoting the rule of law. Courts are taking full advantage of information technology to ensure deeper and wider judicial openness and are building major platforms for disclosing information of judicial processes, judgment documents and enforcement information.
A total of 25 provinces in China have built unified information disclosure platforms for judicial processes. As of Nov 1, the China Judicial Process Information Online website had received 860,000 visitors, and the judicial process information about all the 9,090 cases newly accepted by the SPC had been made accessible to the parties concerned and their legal agents. A total of 3,145 Chinese courts have uploaded judgment documents to the Judicial Opinions of China website and posted 11.65 million documents on it, making it the world’s largest website in terms of the number of judgment documents.
III. Fulfillment of enforcement obligations now recorded automatically
According to Li, 50.68 million pieces of enforcement information had been released through the website and more than 33.8 million visitors had searched for such information as of Nov 1. Last year, the SPC opened an enforcement command system, established direct connection with 21 national banks and set up an online enforcement inquiry and monitoring system covering over 2,000 courts in China. Most of China’s higher people’s courts have launched a “point-to-point” enforcement inquiry and monitoring system. About 2.45 million people subject to enforcement have been listed and 34 percent of them have fulfilled their obligations. IV. 7,800 have been selected as people’s jurors in pilot courts
Li said 50 courts in ten provinces and cities began to pilot a reform on the people's jurors system in May. The selection of people’s jurors finished on Nov 8, with more than 7,800 jurors selected in pilot courts, four times the number of their judges. Improvements have been made on participation of people’s jurors in court cases, too. The collegiate bench, which consists of more than three randomly selected people’s jurors, has played an important role in trials over disputes in land requisition and demolitions, environmental protection, and food and drug safety.
However, the judicial reform still faces many difficulties and problems, Li said. He called for further reforms to improve China’s legal system and advance the rule of law as a contribution to the Chinese Dream.