Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China
Chapter III Trial Organization
Article 40 The people's court of first instance shall try civil cases by a collegial panel composed of both judges and judicial assessors or of judges alone. The collegial panel must have an odd number of members.
Civil cases in which summary procedure is followed shall be tried by a single judge alone.
When performing their duties, the judicial assessors shall have equal rights and obligations as the judges.
Article 41 The people's court of second instance shall try civil cases by a collegial panel of judges. The collegial panel must have an odd number of members.
For the retrial of a remanded case, the people's court of first instance shall form a new collegial panel in accordance with the procedure of first instance.
If a case for retrial was originally tried at first instance, a new collegial panel shall be formed according to the procedure of first instance; if the case was originally tried at second instance or was brought by a people's court at a higher level to it for trial, a new collegial panel shall be formed according to the procedure of second instance.
Article 42 The president of the court or the chief judge of a division of the court shall designate a judge to serve as the presiding judge of the collegial panel; if the president or the chief judge participates in the trial, he himself shall serve as the presiding judge.
Article 43 When deliberating a case, a collegial panel shall observe the rule of majority. The deliberations shall be recorded in writing, and the transcript shall be signed by the members of the collegial panel. Dissenting opinions in the deliberations must be truthfully entered in the transcript.
Article 44 The judicial officers shall deal with all cases impartially and in accordance with the law.
The judicial officers shall not accept any treat or gift from the parties or their agents ad litem.
Any judicial officer who commits embezzlement, accepts bribes, engages in malpractice for personal benefits or who perverts the law in passing judgment shall be investigated for legal responsibility; if the act constitutes a crime, the offender shall be investigated for criminal responsibility according to the law. Chapter IV Withdrawal
Article 45 A judicial officer shall of himself withdraw from the case, and the parties thereto shall be entitled to apply orally or in writing for his withdrawal in any of the following circumstances:
(1) he being a party to the case or a near relative of a party or an agent ad litem in the case;
(2) he being an interested party in the case; or
(3) he having some other kind of relationship with a party to the case, which might affect the impartiality of the trial.
The above provisions shall also apply to clerks, interpreters, expert witnesses and inspection personnel.
Article 46 In applying for the withdrawal, the party shall state the reason and submit the application at the beginning of the proceedings; the application may also be submitted before the closing of arguments in court if the reason for the withdrawal is known to him only after the proceedings begin.
Pending a decision by the people’s court regarding the withdrawal applied for, the judicial officer concerned shall temporarily suspend his participation in the proceedings, with the exception, however, of cases that require the taking of emergency measures.
Article 47 The withdrawal of the presiding judge who is president of the court shall be decided by the judicial committee; the withdrawal of judicial officers shall be decided by the court president; and the withdrawal of other personnel by the presiding judge.
Article 48 The decision of a people's court on an application made by any party for withdrawal shall be made orally or in writing within three days after the application was made. If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, he may apply for reconsideration which could be granted only once. During the period of reconsideration, the person whose withdrawal has been applied for shall not suspend his participation in the proceedings. The decision of a people's court on the reconsideration shall be made within three days after receiving the application and the applicant shall be notified of it accordingly.
Chapter V Participants in Proceedings
Section 1 Parties
Article 49 Any citizen, legal person and any other organization may become a party to a civil action.
Legal persons shall be represented by their legal representatives in the litigation. Other organizations shall be represented by their principal heads in the proceedings.
Article 50 Parties to an action shall have the right to appoint agents, apply for withdrawals, collect and provide evidence, proffer arguments, request conciliation, file an appeal and apply for execution.
Parties to an action may have access to materials pertaining to the case and make copies thereof and other legal documents pertaining to the case. The scope of and rules for consulting and making copies of them shall be specified by the Supreme People's Court.
Parties to an action must exercise their litigation rights in accordance with the law, observe the procedures and carry out legally effective written judgments or orders and conciliation statements.
Article 51 The two parties may reach a compromise of their own accord.
Article 52 The plaintiff may relinquish or modify his claims. The defendant may admit or rebut the claims and shall have the right to file counterclaims.
Article 53 When one party or both parties consist of two or more than two persons, their object of action being the same or of the same category and the people's court considers that, with the consent of the parties, the action can be tried combined, it is a joint action.
If a party of two or more persons to a joint action have common rights and obligations with respect to the object of action and the act of any one of them is recognized by the others of the party, such an act shall be valid for all the rest of the party; if a party of two or more persons have no common rights and obligations with respect to the object of action, the act of any one of them shall not be valid for the rest.
Article 54 If the persons comprising a party to a joint action is large in number, the party may elect representatives from among themselves to act for them in the litigation. The acts of such representatives in the litigation shall be valid for the party they represent. However, modification or waiver of claims or admission of the claims of the other party or pursuing a compromise with the other party by the representatives shall be subject to the consent of the party they represent.
Article 55 Where the object of action is of the same category and the persons comprising one of the parties is large but uncertain in number at the commencement of the action, the people's court may issue a public notice, stating the particulars and claims of the case and informing those entitled to participate in the action to register their rights with the people's court within a fixed period of time.
Those who have registered their rights with the people's court may elect representatives from among themselves to proceed with the litigation; if the election fails its purpose, such representatives may be determined by the people's court through consultation with those who have registered their rights with the court.
The acts of such representatives in the litigation shall be valid for the party they represent; however, modification or waiver of claims or admission of the claims of the other party or pursuing a compromise with the other party by the representatives shall be subject to the consent of the party they represent.
The judgments or written orders rendered by the people's court shall be valid for all those who have registered their rights with the court. Such judgments or written orders shall apply to those who have not registered their rights but have instituted legal proceedings during period of limitation of the action.
Article 56 If a third party considers that he has an independent claim to the object of action of both parties, he shall have the right to bring an action.
Where the outcome of the case will affect a third party's legal interest, such party, though having no independent claim to the object of action of both parties, may file a request to participate in the proceedings or the people's court shall notify the third party to participate. A third party that is to bear civil liability in accordance with the judgment of the people's court shall be entitled to the rights and obligations of a party in litigation.
Section 2 Agents ad Litem
Article 57 Any person with no legal capacity to engage in litigation shall have his guardian or guardians as statutory agents to act for him in a lawsuit. If the statutory agents try to shift responsibility as agents ad litem upon one another, the people's court shall appoint one of them to represent the person in litigation.
Article 58 A party to an action, or statutory agent may appoint one or two persons to act as his agents ad litem.
A lawyer, a near relative of the party, a person recommended by a relevant social organization or a unit to which the party belongs or any other citizen approved by the people's court may be appointed as the party's agent ad litem.
Article 59 When a person appoints another to act on his behalf in litigation, he must submit to the people's court a power of attorney bearing his signature or seal.
The power of attorney must specify the matters entrusted and the powers conferred. An agent ad litem must obtain special powers from his principal to admit, waive or modify claims, or to compromise or to file a counterclaim or an appeal.
A power of attorney mailed or delivered through others by a citizen of the People's Republic of China residing abroad must be certified by the Chinese embassy or consulate accredited to that country. If there is no Chinese embassy or consulate in that country, the power of attorney must be certified by an embassy or a consulate of a third country accredited to that country that has diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and then transmitted for authentication to the embassy or consulate of the People's Republic of China accredited to that third country, or it must be certified by a local patriotic overseas Chinese organization.
Article 60 A party to an action shall inform the people's court in writing if he changes or revokes the powers of an agent ad litem, and the court shall notify the other party of the change or revocation.
Article 61 A lawyer who serves as an agent ad litem and other agents ad litem shall have the right to investigate and collect evidence, and may have access to materials pertaining to the case. The scope of and rules for consulting materials pertaining to the case shall be specified by the Supreme People's Court.
Article 62 In a divorce case in which the parties to the action have been represented by their agents ad litem, the parties themselves shall still appear in court in person, unless they are incapable of expressing their own will. A party who is truly unable to appear in court due to a special reason shall submit his views in writing to the people's court.