A. Signing and ratifying various international treaties as part of the efforts to join the international community
36 human rights treaties on humanitarian matters, labor rights, civil and political rights and rights of refugees;
33 treaties on environmental protection;
11 intellectual property rights treaties; and
10 anti-terrorism treaties.
B. Getting full membership in the WTO in 2001 following the entry into 20 agreements and annexes.
C. Bilateral agreements on extradition and judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters with more than 80 countries, including Australia, Argentina，Brazil，France, Korea, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Russia, South Africa，Spain and the United States.
A. Successful economic reform in the last 30 years with a high growth rate of 9.67% per annum
B. Central leadership has been paying more attention to basic needs and social welfare of the citizens (for example, Medicare, housing, education, food safety, environmental protection) under the notion of “serving the people”, “continuous development” and “building harmonious society”.
C. High growth of the economy leads the public to seek further protection of their legal rights, thus resulting in more disputes turning into lawsuits.
The “Litigation Explosion” -
Cases filed with courts since 1979:
1979 ---- 520,000
1989 ---- 2,600,000
1999 ---- 6,230,000
2000 – 2005: more than 7 million each year
2006 ---- 7,893,144
2007 (first 6 months) ---- 5,200,000.
D. A market economy requires the “rule of law” to govern the growing economy and to adjudicate social conflicts. Thus the judicial system is expected to take more responsibilities in administer justice.
A. Material amendments to constitutional law:
“Market economy” (article 15 amended in ,1993)
“Rule of law” (article 5, amended in 1999 )
“Private property protection” (article 16 amended in 1999, article13, amended in 2004):
5,200,000 private enterprises (by 2006)
560,000 foreign invested enterprises (by 2006)
“Human rights protection” (article 33<3>, amended in 2004)
B. Additional important legislation enacted as part of the reform activities:
41,412 criminal suspects were provided with free legal aid services in 2006.
282,581 plaintiffs in civil litigation benefited from judicial aid.
(RMB 1.2 billion was waived or deducted from the litigation fees)
Several local courts provided compensation to the victims in criminal cases when the accused had no ability to pay for civil damages. (Beijing, Shandong )
e) Judicial review of administrative decisions:
Higher court jurisdiction if local government tries to interfere.
Chief officials required to appear in court as the defendant’s representatives.
More emphasis on enforcement of judicial review judgment.
In 2006,17018 administrative decisions were declared invalid or illegal.
Judicial review resulted in the changes of 34% of total 92,613 decisions made by the governments or their branches.
Courts sustained only 18% of the total administrative decisions.
f) Special civil jurisdiction to avoid local protection in commercial cases:
Higher court jurisdiction.
Third place jurisdiction.
2). Consistency of Application of Law a).Death penalty review by the Supreme Court since January 1st, 2007
more prudent judgments and fewer capital punishment
trying best to avoid wrong decisions
death penalty only for most serious crimes;
2 years suspension
All death penalty cases must be subject to appellate hearings before being submitted to the Supreme Court for final review.
b) Central jurisdiction on international cases:
Cases involving international trade and investment:
initial hearing in intermediate court at provincial capital cities since 2001.
Judicial review of international arbitration awards:
preliminary decisions on non-recognition or refusal to enforce an international arbitration award must be submitted to provincial high courts and the Supreme Court for final decision.
c) Maritime court jurisdiction as experimental practice for “judicial district” conception:
Provincial People’s Congress to appoint judges.
More qualified judges with professional skills.
Adequate financial budget to ensure judicial functions.
Long arm jurisdiction without local protectionism.
d) Leading case methods to ensure nation wide consistency in sentencing:
Different from the common law rule of Stare Decisis:
Not law making process, just for reference in decisions:
“similar facts, consistent judgments”
Leading case from the lower court may be declared by the Supreme Court as the model for all other courts.
3). Professional Judiciary a) Selection system and promotional mechanism for judges:
Unified exams for legal profession, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers since 2002;
More experienced lawyers and famous professors joined the judiciary, 7 law professors in the Supreme court as justices and senior judges;
127 judges from lower courts are promoted to judges at higher courts and even justices at the Supreme Court in 2006;
Professional administration of court system, no reporting from lower courts to higher courts any more.
b) Adjudication Commission reformed to be professional groups:
Sub-committee of civil and administrative litigation.
Sub-committee for criminal litigation.
c) Professional training programs in National Judges College (NJC) and its branches:
10 years’ training of 30,000 senior judges in NJC.
17 NJC provincial branches established to have trained 500,000 times of local judges.
Joint training programs with foreign and HK law schools:
LL.M. program with Temple University Law School since 2002, 38 graduated;
HK City University Law School from 2008.
d) International exchanges with foreign judicial circles and international organizations:
22nd World Law Congress on Rule of Law & Harmony of International Society: over 70 Chief Justices and justices, including Justice Kennedy, participated;
60 joint programs with UNDP, World Bank, ADB, WIPO, CIDA, ABA, AusAID, German CTZ and InWEnt;
Forum for World Famous Jurists in NJC since 2000
Justice Scalia and Justice O'Connor from the United States and Chief Justices from other countries gave speeches to judges in training programs.
Asian Consultation on Due Process program: moot court trial in comparative practice with common law countries and districts in Asia;
45 delegations with 232 judges and professors in NJC sent to more than 10 countries for further study and research;
Exchanges between the two Supreme Courts (U.S. – China)
Chief Justice Xiao Yang, Justice Chao Jianmin and Justice Wan visited the U.S.
4). Judicial Transparency and Democracy a) Supreme Court issued rules for public trials:
court sessions open to adults (over 18 years old).
exceptions: cases on state secrets, juvenile issues and privacy.
important cases may be televised or broadcasted live on the internet.
b) People’s assessor system (layman judge not in robe):
Different from the jury system in the US:
With full power as ordinary judges (not presiding trial) to make decisions on fact findings, applying law and sentencing; more in civil cases on family, maritime, IP issues，as well as serious criminal cases.
46,640 of total 55,681 layman judges joined adjudicating 339,965 cases since 2006.
32% of all the cases tried with people’s assessors since 2005.
Professional training provided in NJC and its branches.