On February 26, the Supreme People's Court formally released the Opinion of the SPC on Deepening Reform in the People's Courts Comprehensively (SPC Release 2015 no. 3) via its Tencent Wechat account. The Opinion will be implemented as a revision of the Outline of the Fourth Five-year Reform of the People's Courts (2014-2018).
Outline of the Fourth Five-year Reform of the People's Courts (2014-2018): Opinion of the Supreme People's Court on Deepening Reform of the People's Courts Comprehensively
The Eighteenth National Congress of the CPC put forth an important strategic plan for the further deepening reform of the judicial system from the high perspective of developing socialist democracy and accelerating the construction of a socialist country under the rule of law. The Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Major Issues Related to Deepening Reform Comprehensively, which was passed by the 3rd Plenary Session of the 18th CPC, ascertained the primary mission for promoting the construction of rule of law in China and the deepening reforms of the judicial system. The Decision of the CPCCC on Several Major Issues in Promoting the Rule of Law Comprehensively, adopted by the 4th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC, makes constructing a rule of law system that is socialist with Chinese characteristics as well as a socialist state governed by law are the overall goals of promoting a state comprehensively governed in accordance with the law; it also sets out a series of major reform initiatives in areas such as scientifically-based legislation, strict implementation of the law, fair administration of justice, and general popular compliance with the law. We are facing an historically unprecedented, great opportunity for judicial reform of the people's courts. We have drafted our Opinion on Deepening Reform of the People's Courts Comprehensively, which shall be implemented as a revision of the Outline of the Fourth Five-year Reform of the People's Courts (2014–2018) so as to further deepen the various reforms of the people's courts and implement the spirit of the 18th Party Congress and its 3th and 4th Plenary Sessions.
I. The overall concept behind deepening reform of the people's courts comprehensively
The overall thought behind comprehensively deepening reform of the people's court is: vigorously focus on the goal of letting the people feel justice in every judicial cases, and always adhere to the central work principles [line] of justice for the people, impartial justice, work hard to resolve issues affecting impartial justice, constrain deep-seated problems affecting judicial capacity, ensure that the people's court can independently and impartially exercise judicial power, and continuously improve the credibility of justice, promote the modernization of national governance systems and governance, by 2018 initially establish an operating system for socialist judicial power with Chinese characteristics, making it an important part of the socialist rule of law system with Chinese characteristics, to achieve the "two centennial" goals, to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese dream.
II. The basic principles of deepening reform of the people's courts comprehensively
The basic principles of comprehensively deepening reform of the people's courts:
Persist in the Party's leadership, ensuring a correct political orientation. People's courts deepening judicial reform shall adhere to the Party's leadership throughout, fully bring into play the Party's core function of viewing the overall situation and coordinating leadership in all areas; truly realize the organic unity of the Party's leadership, the people as the masters, and governance in accordance with law; to ensure that judicial reforms maintain the correct political orientation throughout.
Respect judicial rules to manifest the attributes of judicial power. Increased judicial reform of the courts should strictly abide by the operating laws of jurisdiction for the powers of discretion and judgment. It should highlight the central authorities' governance attributes over jurisdiction and give the trial the prominent central role of the litigation system. This is so that the results of the reforms can fully reflect the characteristics of jurisdiction: independence, neutrality, procedurality, and finality.
Promote reform in accordance with law, ensuring that reform is prudent and orderly. In the deep judicial reforms of the people's courts, we should uphold the Constitution and laws as its basis, based on China's national conditions, move forward according to the law in an orderly manner, to achieve major reforms with a legal basis, promote judicial reform initiatives that are consistent with the law and the requirements of impartial administration of justice rise to become law in a timely manner.
Persist in advancing as a whole, emphasizing breakthroughs in key areas. People's courts deepening of judicial reform shall strive to resolve deep problems impacting judicial fairness and constraining judicial capacity; shall break through obstacles in systems, mechanisms and safeguards; and should at the same time identify priorities, emphasize key points, and be problem oriented, so as to ensure the overall advancement of reforms.
Strengthen top-level design, encouraging regional exploration in practice.People's courts' deepening of judicial reform shall strengthen top-level design, doing a good job of the overall planning of major reform projects, emphasizing to the systematic, comprehensive and synergistic character of reforms; at the same time, respect regional initiative, encouraging lower level courts to innovate within the center's uniform arrangements deployment, promptly reporting on pilot project experiences and promoting institutional innovation.
III. The Principal Tasks in Comprehensively Deepening Reform of the People's Courts
(1) Establish a system of judicial jurisdictions appropriately separate from administrative divisions.
Establishing an Socialist operation system with Chinese characteristics for the adjudication power requires starting from maintaining the unity of the nations' laws, bringing about the requirements for judicial fairness, explore establishing a judicial jurisdiction system that ensures the people's courts lawful, independent and just exercise of the adjudication power. By the end of 2017, have the preliminary form of a judicial jurisdiction system that is scientific and rational, connected and orderly and ensures justice.
1. Establish circuit divisions of the Supreme People's Court. The Supreme People's Court establishes circuit divisions, handling major civil, commercial and administrative cases that cross administrative regions. Adjust the jurisdictional system by level for major civil and commercial matters, and administrative cases which cross administrative divisions, implement a system which integrates with the jurisdictional scope of the Supreme People's Court.
2. Explore establishing cross-jurisdictional courts which span administrative divisions. Taking science, simplicity, efficacy, and benefit as principles, explore establishing courts which cross administrative regions, with a litigation structure organized so that ordinary cases are accepted within administrative regions and special cases are accepted by cross-administrative region courts. Reform the railway transportation courts as cross-administrative region courts, primarily handling cases that cross administrative regions, major administrative cases, environmental resource protection cases, enterprise bankruptcy cases , food/drug safety cases, and other cases which could easily be influenced by local factors; cases raised by cross-administrative region people's procuratorates, and civil or criminal cases formerly accepted by the railway transportation courts.
3. Promote the establishment of intellectual property rights courts. On the basis of the special characteristics and requirements of intellectual property rights cases, establish and improve special procedures, jurisdiction systems and trial rules meeting for hearing intellectual property rights cases.
4. Reform the administrative case jurisdiction system. Through elevated jurisdiction and designated jurisdictions, gradually make it so that intermediate people's court have jurisdiction of administrative cases that would easily be influenced by local factors. Standardize requirements and procedures for applying for retrial in administrative cases.
5. Reform the maritime case jurisdiction system. Further clean up the system for trial of maritime matters. Scientifically determine the scope of jurisdiction for maritime courts, establish working mechanisms better suited for maritime courts hearing of cases.
6. Reform the environmental resource case jurisdiction system. Promote the establishment of institutions for environmental resource trials. Further improve the jurisdiction system for environmental resource cases.
7. Complete the system public interest litigation jurisdiction system. Explore establishing a jurisdiction system connected to public interest litigation raised by procuratorates.
8. Continue to promote reform of the court management system.Uniformly bring the forestry and agricultural reclamation courts into the national court management system; clean up the case jurisdiction mechanisms, and reform the systems for department and enterprise management courts.
9. Reform military justice institutional mechanisms. Improve the system of uniform leadership for the military trial system, protecting the national defense interests, ensuring the lawful rights and interests of soldiers, and combatting crime in accordance with law.
(2) Establish a procedural system with trial as its center
Establish a socialist system with Chinese characteristics for operation of the adjudication power, which must respect judicial rules, ensure the role of courtroom proceedings in preserving procedural rights, affirming evidence, clarifying facts, and making fair rulings; make if so that evidence is verified and challenged in the courtroom, the facts are affirmed in the courtroom, defense opinions are expressed in the courtroom, and the ground for judgment are formed in the courtroom. Through the end of 2016, promote the establishment of a litigation system with trial as its center, and urge investigative activities and the review for prosecution to also rotate around trial procedures.
10. Comprehensively implement the principle of evidence based judgments.Strengthen awareness of courtroom proceedings as central, implement the principle of direct verbal trial, strictly implement a system for court appearances by witnesses and evaluators, and bring into play the role of courtroom proceedings in restricting and guiding investigation and indictment procedures. Resolutely implement the principle of not convicting in cases in doubt, strictly implement the exclusionary rule to further clarify the scope of illegal evidence and procedures for exclusion.
11. Strengthen mechanisms for judicial safeguards of human rights.Highlighting the civility of the contemporary judiciary, it is prohibited to have a criminal defendant or appellant in custody appear in court for trial wearing identifying clothing, vests, prison uniforms or other clothing with the mark of a supervising agency. Strengthen institutional safeguards for parties and other litigation participants' rights to know, make statements, defend and debate, make applications and appeal. Improve mechanisms for ensuring lawyers practice rights, strengthening the concept of equal arms between the prosecution and defense, it is prohibited to conduct discriminatory safety inspections of lawyers, and lawyers are to be lawfully facilitated in the performance of their duties.. Lawfully ensure lawyers' rights to conduct professional duties of defense representation, implementing lawyers' rights at trial such as the the rights to ask questions, examine evidence and debate. Improve judicial supervision of judicial measures and investigative methods which limit personal freedom, strengthen prevention at the source of the extortion of confessions by torture and the illegal obtaining of evidence; complete mechanisms for the effective prevention and prompt correction of unjust, false and wrongfully decided cases.
12. Complete expedited handling mechanisms for minor criminal cases.With the authorization and supervision of the legislative bodies, orderly advance the reform of the accelerated criminal trial procedures.
13. Improve the criminal procedure system for leniency for those admitting guilt and accepting punishment.Clarify the procedures, punishment standards and disposition methods for cases of defendants' voluntary confessions, voluntary acceptance of punishment, active replevin or restitution; structure a system for diverting cases where the defendant admits his crime from those where he does not to optimize the distribution of judicial resources.
14. Improve evidence rules in civil procedure.Strengthen the leading role of parties in giving evidence in civil cases, affirming the parties' burdens of proof in accordance with law. Clarify the conditions, scope and procedure for people's courts' investigation and collection of evidence in accordance with the duties. Strictly implement a system for court appearances by witnesses and evaluators. Bring into play the core function of debating and affirming evidence in the courtroom in determining case facts. Strictly applying the high probability standard, further clarify the conditions for and scope of judicial discretion. All evidence must be debated and verified in court before it can serve as the basis of a judgment; the reasons for accepting or not accepting important evidence that is contested by the parties must be explained in the written judgment.
15. Establish mechanisms for audio and video recording the entire course of hearings.Strengthen the establishment of technical courtrooms, promoting the full audio-video recording of trial proceedings.
16. Standardize judicial procedures for disposing of assets involved in a case.Clarify the standards, scope and procedures for people's courts' disposition of property involved in the case. Further standardize judicial procedures in criminal, civil and administrative cases for sealing, seizing, freezing and handling of assets involved in a case. Promote the establishment of an information platform for centralized management of assets involved in cases, improving mechanisms for information disclosure related to assets involved in cases.
(3) Optimize internal allotment of powers and functions in the people's courts.
Establishing an Socialist operation system with Chinese characteristics for the adjudication power requires optimizing the people's courts' internal allocation of powers; completing mechanisms for interconnectivity between case-filing, trial, enforcement and trial supervision steps, fully brining into play the different roles of the first-instance trial,second-instance trial, and retrial, to ensure independence of trial levels. Through 2016, form a court duty allocation model that with scientific positions, clear roles, and operational efficacy.
17. Reform the case acceptance system.Change the case filing review system into a case filing registration system, making it so that for cases that should be accepted by the people's courts, where there is a case it must be filed, and where there is a suit it must be accepted; safeguarding the parties' procedural rights. Increase the extent of filing information publicly available online. Promote improvement of the system for collecting litigation fees.
18. Improve the system for dividing up cases.On a foundation of strengthening the establishment of specialized collegial panels, create a system for assigning cases where case distribution is usually random and only sometimes designated. Establish a system for internal announcement when dividing up cases. Where there is a change in the trial organization or judges undertaking the case, an announcement shall be made and the reasons explained.
19. Improve the appeals system.Further reform the system for jurisdiction at different levels in civil commercial matters, scientifically confirm the scope of case jurisdiction at the basic level people's courts, gradually changing to a model where the amount in question determines the level of jurisdiction. Improve systems for elevated jurisdiction, clarifying conditions, scope and procedures for changing jurisdiction of first-instance trials to a higher level court. Promote the implementation of first-instance cases emphasizing resolving factual determinations and application of law, second-instance emphasizing resolving disputes of fact and law; so that second judgments are final, retrials emphasize resolving making corrections in accordance with law and protecting the authority of judgments.
20. Strengthen oversight of appeals.Strictly regulate the requirements and number of instances of remands for new trial or orders for retrial from higher level people's courts, improve the mechanisms for disclosure of documents for remand for new trial or orders for retrial, and improve mechanisms for case information feedback. People's courts handling second-instance trials, elevated jurisdiction cases and appeals to higher levels, shall indicate the problems in the original judgment in the written judgment and explain the reasons for their judgment. People's courts handling cases where an appeal has already been filed and accepted shall issue the parties with a document concluding the case in the legally prescribed form; and where cases meet the requirements for disclosure, they shall all be released on the China Judgment Opinions Website.
21. Improve the case quality assessment system.Establish a scientific and rational case quality assessment system. Abolish unlawful assessment indicators and measures contrary to judicial rules, and cancel any form of rankings. Strengthen case filing within statutory time limits and the completion of trial within the normal trial time limits, establish notification mechanisms for trials that are not completed over a long time, resolutely put an end to the incorrect methods of artificially controlling case closure. Relying on openness in the trial process, openness of judgment documents and the implementation of the three major platforms for information disclosure, bring into play the roles of the case quality appraisal system in providing service, research and orientation to the people's courts.
22. Deepen reforms of judicial statistics.Reform mechanisms for judicial statistics with the idea of "big data, big picture, and big service" as a guide; make a system of standards for judicial statistics that has scientific classifications and complete information, gradually building a model for analysis of empirical evidence that complies with the reality of judicial practice and judicial rules, and establish a national archive of court judgment opinions and a national center for big data on judicial information.
23. Improve mechanisms for the uniform application of law.Improve the Supreme People's Courts methods of trial guidance, increase the standardization, timeliness, focus and efficacy of judicial interpretations and other measures of trial guidance. Reform and improve mechanisms for the selection, appraisal and release of guiding cases. Complete and improve working mechanisms for the uniform application of law.
24. Deepen reforms of enforcement systems.Promote institutions reform pilots on separating the implementation of adjudication and enforcement powers. Establish a legal system for credit supervision, deterrence and punishment of those not fulfilling judgments against them. Increase the force of reforms of the judicial auction methods, emphasizing the promotion of online judicial auction models. Improve systems for enforcement of property punishments, promoting the inclusion of property punishments within the unified criminal punishment enforcement system.
25. Promote improvement of the judicial aid system.Clarify the requirements, standards and scope for judicial aid, standardize the acceptance, review and decision-making procedures for judicial aid, and strictly manage the use of funds. Promote national judicial aid legislation, to bring about judicial aid's active role in supporting the public and resolving conflicts.
26. Deepen international cooperation in the judicial field.Promote the improvement of the judicial assistance system，expand the scope covered by regional and international judicial assistance. Promote the drafting of a Judicial Assistance Law in Criminal Matters
(4) Complete operation mechanisms for the adjudication power
Establish a socialist operations system with Chinese characteristics for the adjudication power, that must strictly obey the rules of the judiciary, improving operations mechanisms for the adjudication power such as making trial the center, and trial supervision and trial management powers as safeguards; implement a judgment responsibility system, making it so that those who hear a case judge it, and those who judge it are responsible for it. Through the end of 2015, establish and improve operations mechanisms for the adjudication power that clarify rights and responsibilities, integrate of rights and responsibilities, have orderly supervision and a completed set of accompanying measures.
27. Complete mechanisms for case handling by presiding judges and collegial panels. Select adjudicators with good political character, strong case-handling abilities, a high level of professionalism, and rich judicial experience to serve as presiding judges. Trials by a single judge have the presiding judge as the center, with the necessary number of assistant adjudication staff allotted. In trial by collegial panel, the presiding judge acts as the chief judge. Where members of the collegial panel are all presiding judges, in principle the presiding judge that has undertaken the case serves as chief judge. Improve working mechanisms for court presidents, division heads and adjudication committee members to participate in collegial panels hearing cases. Reform and improve working mechanisms for collegial panels, clarifying that scope of duties of collegial panels as trial organizations, improve joint oversight and checks mechanisms between collegial panel members in reading the case file, trial and deliberations. Reform mechanisms for signing and issuing of judicial opinions.
28. Improve case-handling responsibility systems for presiding judges and collegial panels. Following the principle of integrating power, responsibility and interests, clarify the case-handling responsibilities of presiding judges, collegial panels and their members, and the conditions for waiving responsibility, bringing about a effective balance between evaluation mechanisms, accountability mechanisms, punishment mechanisms, termination mechanisms and [employment] safeguard mechanisms. When presiding judges participate in panel deliberations, as the chief judge their powers are equal to that of other collegial panel members, but they have responsibility to preside over courtroom activities, control the flow of trial, organize the case deliberations and avoid procedural flaws. Scientifically delineate the responsibility of collegial panel members, both ensuring their independent expression of idea and also making clear their responsibility for their own opinions and performance in the course of resolving a case.
29. Complete trial management mechanisms for court presidents and division chiefs. Clarify trial management responsibilities for court presidents and division heads appropriate to their duties. Standardize systems for the review, reporting and approval of modifications to trial procedures or time limits. Complete internal guidance mechanisms for archiving litigation files by type, online case-handling, monitoring of case flow, and putting judgment documents online.
30. Complete trial supervision mechanisms for court presidents and division chiefs. Clarify the trial supervision responsibilities of court presidents and division chiefs, complete internal checks and supervision mechanisms. Improve mechanisms for meetings of presiding judges and specialized judges . Standardize the supervision mechanisms for major, difficult or complicated cases by the court president and division heads, establish a system for storing documents produced during a court president or division head's supervision activities in the case file. Employ modern information methodology to establish mechanisms for mutual checks and mutual supervision that leave full records for judges and collegial panels exercising their adjudication power and for court presidents and division chiefs exercising their supervision powers; to ensure that supervision is neither lacking nor overreaching, supervision must leave a trail, and there must be accountability for misconduct.
31. Complete systems for trial management. To further improve the case quality assessment, give free reign to those managing trials in terms of elevating the assurance, promotion, and service roles of aspects such as trial quality and efficiency, judicial practice standardization, litigation procedure stringency, and a uniform measure of judgments, and strengthen control over each point of the trial process.
32. Reform systems for work by the adjudication committees.Rationally situate the functions of the adjudication committees, strengthening the adjudication abilities' overarching guiding roles in bringing together experience and discussing decisions in major matters. Establish mechanisms for initial filtering of matters discussed by the adjudication committee, standardize the scope of cases discussed by the adjudication committee. The adjudication committee will principally discuss questions on the application of law except in circumstances provided by law or major and complicated cases involving national diplomacy, security and social stability. Improve the adjudication committees' Rules of Procedure and establish systems for signing and verifying materials and records from meetings of the adjudication committee. Establish systems for oversight, response and announcement of the adjudications' resolution of matters. Establish a system for evaluation of adjudication committee members performance and they internal announcent.
33. Promote reform of people's assessor system.Implement the people's assessors "multiplication plan" to broaden the channels and scope of people's assessors selection, assuring that the people participate in the judiciary, and ensuring that the ratio at the grass roots level is not less that 2/3 of people's assessors.. Further standardize the requirements for selection of people's assessors, reform the means of selection and improve withdrawal mechanisms. Clarify the rights of people's assessors hearing cases and improve random sampling mechanisms. Reform assessors' methods, gradually move towards people's assessors no longer hearing legal questions and only participating in hearing issues on determination of facts. Strengthen funding guarantees for people's jurors performing their duties in accordance with the law. Establish dynamic management mechanisms for people's assessors.
34. Advance the reform of explaining reasoning in judgment documents.A simplified judgment document shall be used in civil and commercial cases in the first instance in which the parties' disputes are not large and in which the facts are clear and rights and obligations explicit, as well as in minor criminal cases in the first instance in which the accused has pled guilty and in which the facts are clear and evidence ample; the efficiency of the judgment is improved by using the simplified formatting of filling in the blanks. Great importance will be given to the defence lawyer's opinion, and the judgment documents should explain the rationale where the defence's opinion submitted in accordance with the law is not adopted. Sound legal rationale in legal documents will be a new kind of motivation and incentive mechanism, and an appraisal system will be established for the quality of legal rationale in judgment documents. The quality of reasoning shall be an important factor in a judge's performance evaluation and their promotion.
35. Improve clean governance mechanisms in the judiciary.Improve and strengthen judicial inspection, trial matters supervision and integrity supervisors' work. Build disciplinary case investigation mechanisms where higher disciplinary commissions and higher courts take the principal role and the lower courts coordinate and cooperate to bring about an orderly linkage of Party discipline inspection and supervision procedures and judicial disciplinary procedures. Establish systems for recording and pursuing responsibility of internal court personnel prying into cases. Lawfully regulate the contact and interactions between court personnel and parties, lawyers, interested parties, and intermediary organizations.
36. Reform the system for petitioning involving litigation.Improve mechanisms for the separation of petitioning and litigation work, clarifying the standards, scope and procedures for separating litigation and petitioning. Create finality mechanisms for petitioning involving litigation, standardizing the sequence for petitioning involving litigation in accordance with law. Establish mechanisms for steering and receiving petitioners at their source, and innovation networks for handling petitioning. Promote the establishment of a system for lawyer representation of in complaint appeals cases. Explore the establishment of mechanisms for lawyers to participate as third-parties, increasing the diversity of joined forces for resolving conflicts in petitioning related to litigation.
(5) Construct judicial mechanisms that are open, dynamic, transparent, and convenient.
To build a judicial mechanism than is open, dynamic, transparent, and convenient and improve public understanding, trust, and supervision of the judicature, build an operational system of trial authority that is socialist with Chinese characteristics which must rely on modern information technology. By the end of 2015, form three major platforms -- open access to the people's court trial procedure system that is complete, operational, and easy to use, and the data within is complete; open access to judicial documents; and open access to information about judgment execution -- and establish a comprehensive mechanism where the judicature works for the people which is systemically scientific and convenient to the public.
37. Improve the system for trial transparency.Establish systems for announcement of trial hearings and for information on and reservation of observers seats. For cases which should have a public hearing as per the law and which are subject to public interest, the people's court shall, within the scope of existing conditions, give priority to adapting the court session per the number of those who have arranged and applied to listen to the trial. Trial courts which meet the conditions should establish a media gallery, giving priority meeting to the needs of the press in attendance.
38. Improve platforms for disclosure of the trial process. Promoting the construction of national court affairs website. Establish a national uniform online court platform for handling litigation announcement , and a website for litigation announcements. Continue to strengthen the construction of a website for disclosure of trial process information, improve mechanisms for the timely summary and updating of trial information data. Speed up the project of making the litigation archives electronic. Promote the realization of the nation's courts disclosing trial process information on the same platform, facilitating the parties in getting information about case flow information beginning from the day their case is accepted.
39. Improve disclosure platforms for judgment documents. Increase the building of websites of Chinese judgment documents and improve their search and data aggregation functions to facilitate effective access, review, and duplication of judgment documents by the general public. Strictly follow the requirements of making trials open in principle, and closed as an exception, and make it so the four levels of people's court shall publically publish the effective judgment documents on a unified website for Chinese judgment documents in accordance with the law.
40. Improve platforms for the disclosure of data on the execution or enforcement of judgments. Integrate all kinds of enforcement information, promote the realization of disclosure of enforcement information for the nation's courts on a uniform platform, facilitating parties' learning of progress in enforcement efforts online. Strengthen the extent of release of information on the blacklist of persons not following through on enforcement obligations, fully bringing into play its use a credit penalty, and pressing persons subject to enforcement to actively perform on effective legal documents. Improve the construction of information disclosure systems on persons subject to enforcement, facilitating the masses' understanding of enforcement work and actively accept social supervision.
41. Make systemic improvements in transparency for commutations, parole, and temporarily serving sentences outside of prison. Perfect the applicable conditions and case handling procedures for commutation, parole, temporary service of sentence outside of prison to ensure that the relevant cases are handled in an open manner and fairly. Promote the creation of a collaborative online platform for handling cases in conjunction with the procuratorate and the enforcement authorities for criminal penalties. Implement the ability to input online the key links and important matters in enforcing the law, handling cases, and assessing incentives, as well as the ability to share this and related data and trace the full session from start to stop. Ensure that systemic and technical oversight for the collaborative platform is in place. Build a data network for commutation, parole, temporary service of sentence outside prison. Achieve the unified and publically-accessible online publication of notices of filing, notices of trial, and judicial documents for the three types of case (administrative, criminal, civil).
42. Establish an oversight and guidance system for judicial openness. Strengthen public oversight of judicial openness, complete complaint mechanisms for conduct in violation of provisions on judicial openness and avenues for remedies. Fully put into play the supervisory function of the three major platforms for judicial openness, making opinions and suggestions submitted by the masses through the platforms become a major consultative basis in people's courts' trial management, trial supervision and improvement efforts.
43. Make systemic improvements to the service centers for law suits. Strengthen the standardized establishment of Litigation Service Centers, improving litigation service platforms in lobbies, online and through the 12368 judicial services hotline. Establish work mechanisms such as online advance case filing, service, notification, and appeals. Promote utilization of video such as for remote mediation or petitioning, further expanding the breadth and depth of the judiciary for the people.
44. Make systemic improvements to the people's courtrooms. Optimize the regional distribution and personnel proportions for people's courts. Actively promote a model of courtroom layout in which central courtrooms are primary and supplemented by community courts and circuit trial points. On the basis of actual conditions in a jurisdiction, improve the people's tribunals mechanisms facilitating the people in filing cases. Optimize staff composition. Orderly advance staff exchanges between people's courtrooms and between people's courtrooms and basic level people's courts other chambers.
45. Promote reform of the system for serving notice in civil cases. Promote the establishment of a binding mechanism whereby parties confirm an address for serving notice and bear the related consequences. Explore spreading the use of electronic methods of serving notice with broader informatization. Increase the efficiency with which notice is served.
46. Complete diversified dispute resolutions mechanisms.Continue to promote mediation, arbitration, administrative rulings, administrative reconsideration or other dispute settlement mechanisms with an organic link to litigation, mutual coordinate and guide parties to choose an appropriate dispute resolution. Promote the establishment of dispute mechanisms that are industry specific and specialized in the areas of land requisition and property condemnation, environmental protection, labor protection, health care, traffic accidents, property management, insurance and other areas of dispute, dispute resolution professional organizations, promote the improvement of the arbitration systems and administrative ruling systems. Establish an operating system that links people's mediation, administrative mediation, industry mediation, commercial mediation, and judicial mediation. Promote the legislative process of a diversified dispute settlement mechanism, establish a system for a systematic and scientific diversified dispute settlement system.
47. Promote a responsibility system for popularization of law. Increase awareness of popular legal outreach in the courts, fully bringing into play the legal outreach functions of trial openness, explaining reasoning in written judgments, and releasing cases, promoting the integration of courts' trial duties and legal outreach responsibilities.
(6) Promote the standardization, specialization and professionalization of court personnel
Establish a operating system for judicial authority with Chinese socialist characteristic, it must uphold the hearing as the center and the judge as the center, comprehensively promote standardization, specialization, professionalization of court personnel, make efforts to improve professionalism and professional standards. By the end of 2017, take preliminary steps towards a court personnel management system that meets conforms to the attributes of the judicial profession with scientific classifications, clear division of labor,and reasonable organization,
48. Promote reform of the system of court personnel management by category. Establish a separate professional sequence for judges that conforms with the characteristics or the post. Complete management systems for judicial assistants, clerks, enforcement personnel and other trial support personnel. Scientifically determine the numeric ratio of judges and trial support personnel, establish mechanisms for regular supplementation of trial support personnel, truly reduce judges workload. Expand sourcing channels for trial support personnel, explore methods of purchasing social services to optimize the organization of trial support personnel. Explore promoting reforms of the court police management system. Improve management systems for judicial administrative personnel.
49. Establish a system specifying the number of judges. In accordance with basic jurisdictional data such as the economic and social development conditions, population numbers (including the temporary population), case numbers, and the type of cases, and combined with factors such as the trial courts' functions, judges' workloads, trial support staff, and conditions for handling cases, scientifically determine the number of judicial personnel for the four levels of courts. According to changes in the number of cases and changes to the personnel structure, improve the dynamic system for adjusting the number of judicial personnel. Scientifically establish an interim plan to reform the judicial personnel system by combining factors such as outstanding trial performance, professional ability,level of theory and legal work experience, to ensure that excellent judges remain on the trial level.
50. Reform the selection system for judges. For courts at different levels, establish distinct qualifications for judicial appointments. Establish separately at the national level and the provincial level judicial selection committees, comprised of judge representatives and relevant personnel involved from society, develop an open, fair and impartial selection process, to ensure that those outstanding legal talents with good conduct, are experienced and highly professional become a judge candidates, implement the effective convergence of the judicial selection mechanism and appointment and removal according to law. Improve systems for the unified hiring of new judges by high people's courts, and initial placements at basic level courts. Cooperate in reform of unified legal personnel unified pre-career training systems, and complete training systems for preparing judges. Appropriately increase the age of newly appointed judges. Establish a working mechanism by which in principle, higher level court judges are selected and produced from lower courts. Improve systems by which exceptional lawyers, legal scholars and specialized legal talent from departments such as for legislation, prosecution and enforcement are selected to serve as judges. Improve the courts and law schools, legal research institutions two-way exchange mechanism; implement a plan for mutual hiring of university and court personnel.
51. Improve judicial performance appraisal systems. Establish a scientific and rational, objective and just, professional appraisal system for judges that complies with rules, improve appraisal standards, and make the appraisal results an important basis for whether judges are promoted or given preferential selection. Establish mechanisms for removing unfit judges and improve relevant accompanying measures.
52. Improve professional training mechanisms for judges. Strictly oriented to the demands of reality, support training for all, different types and levels, focus on raising the capacity of judges to drive a hearing, capacity to apply the law and draft judgment documents. Improve the plan for the education and training of judges to generate, organize, and track the management and performance assessment mechanisms, Improve educational materials and teachers database, case database, and quality educational materials database. Strengthen judicial training institutions and onsite educational training bases. Establish a China judicial training website, rely on informatization methods, vigorously promote online education, so that court personnel share quality educational materials online for free. Greatly strengthen the training of basic people's court judges and ethnic bilingual judges.
53. Improve judges' salary system. Implement provisions on the law on judges, research establishing a salary system for judges linked to their individual duties.
(7) Ensure the people's courts' independent and just exercise of the adjudication power in accordance with law
The establishment of a socialist operating system with Chinese characteristics for the adjudication power, must adhere to the Party's leadership; promote improvement of each system for ensuring the people's courts' lawful, independent, and just exercise of the adjudication power; optimize the judicial environment, establish judicial authority, strengthen professional safeguards and increase the credibility of the judiciary. Through the end of 2018, promote the formation of a institutional environment and social atmosphere of trust in the judiciary, respect for the judiciary and support for the judiciary.
54. Promote the reform of unified management of court personnel at the provincial level. Coordinate with the relevant departments of the central authorities to promote the establishment of a system for unified management of local court personnel numbers at the provincial level. Promote the establishment of mechanisms for the unified nomination, management, and termination through legal procedures of local court judges at the provincial level,
55. Establish working mechanisms for preventing interference in judicial activities. Cooperate with relevant central departments to promote the establishment of a system for recording, reporting and pursuing liability where leading cadres interfere with trial or enforcement activities or meddle in the handling of specific cases. In accordance with the requirement that the entire case process leave a trail, clarify trial organizations' duty and responsibility to make records; and where leading cadres interfere with judicial activities or meddle with a specific case, establish a mechanism for lawfully collecting, storing, wharehousing, and filing for the record any information such as written instructions, letters or records; and the relevant information shall all be placed in the official case file and provided to the parties and their representatives for inspection.
56. Complete protection mechanisms for judges performing their legally prescribed duties. Rationally determine the duties, work flow, and work standards for judges and trial support personnel. Clarify the standards for differentiating error by subject and type, and grounds for avoiding responsibility; to ensure that judges are not pursued for their lawful performance of duties. Judges must not be transferred, dismissed, demoted, removed or otherwise sanctioned for matters not prescribed by law or without having gone through legally prescribed procedures. Improve complaint appeal and accusation systems for judges, establishing a remedy mechanisms for judges whose lawful rights and interests are infringed because of their lawful performance of duties, complete mechanisms for clearing up false reports. For the national level and provincial level, separately establish judges' disciplinary committees , in which judicial representantives and relevant social personnel participate, formulating open and fair judicial disciplinary procedures that will both ensure that violations of discipline or law by judges will receive prompt punishment, and also ensuring judges' procedural rights such as to make explanations, raise evidence, apply for a reconsideration.
57. Improve mechanisms for ensuring the authority of the judiciary. Promote the improvement of mechanisms for prosecution of crimes such as refusal to perform on a judgment or ruling, and contempt of court authority. Promote relevant legal revisions, lawfully punish serious contempt of court authority such as the in-court destruction of evidence, court records, legal documents or court facilities, as well unlawful or criminal activity outside of court such as threatening, insulting, pursuing or harassing court personnel or their close family.
58. Strengthen mechanisms for ensuring the good faith of litigation. Establish record and discipline systems for good faith litigation. Punish false lawsuits, malicious lawsuits and unreasonably entangling litigation acts in accordance with law, and store information on the three types of conduct above in the social credit system. Explore establishing lawsuits by victims of false or malicious litigation for compensation of damages.
59. Optimize the external environment for administrative trials. Complete systems for the responsible parties of administrative organs to appear in court and respond to lawsuits, leading to and standardizing administrative organs participation in litigation activities. Standardize the drafting and delivery of judicial recommendations, promoting the lawful spurring of a higher level of administration.
60. Make systemic improvements in judges' oaths. Improve the system of judge's oaths; when judges selected or appointed by all levels of people's congress and their standing committees formally take office, they shall openly swear to the Constitution.
61. Improvement the judicial honors system. Clearly grant judges and trial support personnel different type and standard of honor, different requirements and procedures, to increase court personnel's sense of esteem as judicial professionals and sense of affiliation.
62. Clean up the management of court judicial administrative affairs. Scientifically establish judicial administrative affairs institutions of the people's courts, standardize and unify their administrative responsibilities, explore the implementing the relative separation of judicial administration authority and judicial power. Improve the judicial administrative management mechanism of the courts at various levels, clarify the monitoring responsibilities of the judicial administrative affairs management departments of higher courts of the judicial administrative affairs of lower courts.
63. Promote reform of the people's court asset management system. Coordinate with the relevant departments of the central authorities, promote the reform of mechanisms for the unified management of local court expenses at the provincial level. Improve the people's court budget security system, treasury collection and payment system and financial management system; promoting the establishment of long-term mechanisms for management and safeguarding of funds in the people's courts. Managing according to the strict separation of income and expenditures, local courts of all levels' litigation costs, fines, confiscated assets, as well as recovered criminal proceeds, will uniformly be handed over to the provincial state treasury. Strengthen the establishment of the "two courts" and other venues. Establish a standards system for court equipment.
64. Promote internal institutional reform within the people's courts. In accordance with needs for scientific, simple, and highly effective work, promote flat management, gradually constructing models of internal court organizational setup that have serving trial work as their core,
65. Promote the establishment of informatization in the people's courts. Accelerate construction of the "scales project" striving to bring together existing resources and promote the utilization of all kinds of information in service of courts' work and for the people's desires. Informatization of main operations will reach 100% coverage in the Supreme People's Court and High People's Courts' , and reach 95% and 85% respectively in the intermediate people's courts and basic level people's courts.
IV. The Work Requirements for Comprehensively Deepening Reform of the People's Courts
Comprehensively deepening reform of the people's courts is an onerous task, a heavy responsibility, with an urgent timeline. People's courts at all levels should earnestly implement the center's decision-making arrangements; strengthen organizational leadership; improve working mechanisms; taking a firm grasp on implementation and promotion efforts that is focused, incremental and orderly; ensure that the reform measures achieve tangible results, and that the successes of reforms benefit all the people.
The Supreme People's Court Leading Group on Judicial Reform is the institution for deliberation, coordination and guidance of judicial reforms in the people's courts, and will from time to time convene group meeting to research and confirm key areas for reform, review reform plans, hear progress reports, and discuss and decide upon major issues.
The Supreme People's Court establishes systems for bulletins, supervisory guidance and inspections, and assessment and summation; in order to promptly grasp reform dynamics, strengthen supervision and guidance, correct mistaken practices, and aggregate successful experiences, so that each reform task has organization, has supervision, and has inspections checks to ensure that each take is completed to the letter.
Each higher people's court should establish a judicial reform leading small group, to supervise and guide, to undertake overall planning and coordination of judicial reform work within its jurisdiction. People's courts at all levels should establish and improve the systems for filing and approval of judicial reform matters to consultation reporting, promptly sum up reform experiences of reform, report work progress, and reflect on issues and challenges. Proposed reform pilot projects of the higher people's courts must be submitted to the Supreme People's Court for their approval. The Supreme People's Court must submit major reform projects to the central authorities for their approval before the projects can be implemented.
[…] Some reforms in the criminal process are proposed in the SPC Report, such as no longer requiring defendants in criminal cases to appear in court wearing prison uniforms. The rights of criminal lawyers to obtain information, review case files, appear in court, debate rights issues, apply for evidence, and apply for exclusion of illegally obtained evidence are all mentioned specifically as the subjects of guidelines previously issued by the SPC in 2015. […]