Opinions on Establishing and Completing Institutional Mechanisms Prohibiting Improper Contact and Interactions between Judges or Prosecutors and Lawyers

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Promulgation Date: 2021-9-30
Title: Opinions on Establishing and Completing Institutional Mechanisms Prohibiting Improper Contact and Interactions between Judges or Prosecutors and Lawyers
Document Number:
Expiration date: 
Promulgating Entities:最高人民法院 最高人民检察院 司法部
Source of text: https://www.spp.gov.cn/xwfbh/wsfbt/202111/t20211102_534228.shtml#2

Article 1: These Opinions are based on the relevant provisions of laws such as PRC Judges Law, the PRC Procurators Law, the PRC Lawyers Law, and in consideration of the actual circumstances, in order to further implement Xi Jinping Thought on the Rule of Law, to earnestly implement the 'three provisions' on preventing interference with justice, to establish and complete institutional mechanisms for preventing improper contact and interactions between judges or procurators and lawyers; prevent the conveyance and collusion of interests, and to protect judicial integrity and justice.

Article 2: These Opinions apply to the personnel of all levels of people's court and people's procuratorate lawfully performing trial, enforcement, and procuratorate duties and to judicial administration personnel.

"Lawyers" as used in these Opinions refers to full-time lawyers practicing in law firms (including lawyers engaged in non-litigation matters), government lawyers, and judicial lawyers. Law firms' "legal advisors" as used in these Opinions refers to personnel who are not practicing as lawyers but are providing consultation, legal reasoning in related business areas or individual cases, or conducting activities such as coordination or business development on behalf of a law firm. “Administrative Personnel” of law firms as used in these Opinions refers to personnel hired by law firms to engage in secretarial, financial, administrative, human resources, IT, risk control, or other work.

Article 3: The following contact and interaction is strictly prohibited between judges or procurators and lawyers :

(1) During the handling of a case, having contact with lawyers who are defending or representing the case outside of workplaces and work times, for reasons that are not necessary for case handling, and without permission.

(2) Accepting lawyers' or law firm's request to pry into, interfere with, or intervene in cases currently being handled by other judges or procurators; Interceding or looking into a case and divulging case circumstances at the request of lawyers or law firms; privately meeting with lawyers who are defending or representing a case to act as a go-between with the judges or procurators that are handling the case; sending case materials to lawyers or law firms other than as needed for work; disclosing case circumstances or case-handling secrets to lawyers, or making other disclosures prohibited by laws and regulations; issuing expert opinions of any kind related to the case to lawyers or law firms.

(3) Introducing cases to lawyers; recommending or introducing lawyers to parties to serve as agents ad litem or defenders; requesting, suggesting, or hinting that parties change lawyers who are eligible to handle the case; seeking or accepting benefits such as case representation fees.

(4) Soliciting or accepting bribes from lawyers or their parties; soliciting or accepting cash gifts, gifts, gift cards, negotiable instruments, stocks, or other financial products and assets offered by lawyers as a return of courtesy or for weddings, funerals, and so forth; borrowing money, renting or borrowing property, borrowing vehicles, communication devices, or other items from lawyers; accepting lawyers' invitations for meals, entertainment, or other arrangements that might impact the equitable performance of duties.

(5) Participating in lectures, discussions, symposia, training, forums, academic exchanges, opening ceremonies, or other such activities hosted by law firms or lawyers, other than is necessary for work and without approval or authorization; accepting benefits conveyed by law firms or lawyers for providing legal consultation, legal services, and so forth.

(6) Running a business or engaging in other for-profit activities with lawyers through cooperation, joint ventures, holdings; having one's spouse, children, or children's spouses serve as a 'silent partner' in a law firm; having one's spouse, children, or children's spouses 'cooperate' in starting a business or investing either openly or secretly; acquiescing to, enabling, or concealing one's spouses', children's, or children's spouses' receipt of compensation from a law firm in violation of rules; or lending to lawyers or law firms at high interest rates.

(7) Other improper contact and interactions that might impact judicial fairness and judicial authoritativeness.

It is strictly prohibited for law firms and their lawyers to engage in the improper contact and interactions listed in the preceding paragraph.

Article 4: All levels of people's court, people's procuratorate, and judicial administrative organ is to explore the establishment of dynamic mechanisms for monitoring courts', procuratorates', and lawyers' handling of cases, relying on the people's courts' and people's procuratorates' case management systems and lawyer management systems to initiate early warning mechanisms where the number of cases handled by judges or procurators involving the same lawfirm or lawyers reaches a provided number within a certain period of time, and require the judges or procurators and the lawyers to explain the situation, and initiate investigation procedures unless there is a proper reason that can exclude the possibility of improper interaction. Based on the actual local conditions, the high people's court and high people's procuratorate for each province, autonomous region, and directly-governed municipality are to clarify the number of times required for initiation of the early warning mechanisms as provided above.

Article 5: Where any level of people's court or people's procuratorate discovers leads on improper contact and interactions between lawyers and judges or procurators, they shall transfer the leads on the lawyer to the judicial administrative organ or the disciplinary inspection and supervision organs for handling in accordance with provisions. Where any level of judicial administrative organ or lawyers association receives complaints or reports involving leads on improper contact or interactions between lawyers and judges or procurators, they shall transfer the leads on the judges or procurators involved to the corresponding people's courts or people's procuratorates, or to the discipline inspection and supervision organs.

Article 6: Each level of people's court and people's procuratorate may form a joint investigation group with the judicial administrative organs as needed, to jointly investigate issues of improper contact and interactions between judges or procurators and lawyers.

For issues of improper contact and interactions that are found to be true, the judges and procurators are to be given sanctions in accordance with rules, discipline, and law, and the lawyers are to be given administrative punishments, sanctions, and party discipline, adhering to the principle of severity, and in comprehensive consideration of factors such as the nature, details, consequences, and social impact of the conduct, whether it was proactively confessed, and so forth. Where law firms tacitly accept, enable, or allow the firm's lawyers, 'legal consultants', and administrative personnel to have improper contact and interactions with judges or procurators, punishments and sanctions are to be currently given to the law firms, and punishments are to be given to the law firm's party organization in light of the circumstances. Where judges or procurators are suspected of violations or crimes with lawyers, it is to be transferred to the discipline and supervision organs or judicial organs, etc. in accordance with laws and regulations.

Article 7: Each level of people's court, people's procuratorate, judicial administrative organ, and lawyers associations should normalize the carrying out of warnings and education, periodically reporting typical cases of improper contact and interactions on people's courts', people's procuratorate's, and judicial administrative systems and printing compilations of typical cases of improper contact and interactions, to guide judges, procurators, and lawyers to deeply absorb training, internalize respect and fear, and not cross the bottom line or red lines.

Article 8: All levels of people's court, people's procuratorate, judicial administrative organ, and lawyers association should strengthen professional ethics training for judges, procurators, and lawyers, and make systems related to improper contact between judges or procurators and lawyers an key component of pre-position training and required continuing education courses, to guide judges, procurators, and lawyers to understand policy lines, clear up murky understanding, and strengthen conscientiousness in their actions.

Article 9: All levels of people's court and people's procuratorate should improve internal operating mechanisms for judicial authority, giving full play to judicial and procuratorate oversight functions, completing mechanisms such as for consideration of similar cases, judgment guidance, and guiding cases, to promote the uniform measure of cases, and to prevent judges and procurators from abusing their discretion. Strengthen internal and external oversight and restraints, and include issues such as judges or prosecutors contact and interactions with lawyers, and judges' or prosecutors' close relative's engagement in the legal profession, etc., into the scope of judicial inspections, inspection patrols, trial inspections, and procuratorial inspections.

All levels of people's court and people's procuratorate should strengthen the routine regulation of judges and procurators, strengthening oversight and management of judges and procurators time outside of work, and discover, give warnings, and make corrections early for any emerging problem tendencies that are discovered. Strictly implement the monthly reporting mechanism for the 'three provisions' on the prevention of interference with justice, periodically analyzing and handling data on the handling records reporting platform, to promptly discover leads on the violations of discipline and law.

Article 10: All levels of judicial administrative organs should truly strengthen regulation of lawyers' practice, strengthening routine oversight and management through strengthening annual reviews for lawyers and law firms, and improving mechanisms for investigating complaints against lawyers.

Improve systems for displaying information on lawyers' creditworthiness, accelerate the establishment of platforms for the display of information on lawyers' creditworthiness, promptly disclosing information to the public on lawyers receipt of punishments and sanctions for improper contact or interactions with judges and procurators, to strengthen oversight by the societal public and to guide and spur lawyers to practice in a creditworthy manner in accordance with laws and regulations.

Improve systems for managing fee collection by lawyers, strengthen routine regulation of uniform case acceptance and fee collection, regulate lawyers' representation on contingency, and limit the scope of contingency representation, to avoid judicial corruption induced by contingency representation.

Article 11: Law firms shall truly perform oversight and management duties for the firm's lawyers, 'legal consultants, and administrative personnel, and must not direct, tolerate or allow the firm's lawyers, 'legal consultants', and administrative personnel to have improper contact or interactions with judges or procurators. Where law firms violate the above provisions, the judicial administrative organs are to give punishments in accordance with laws and regulations.

Article 12: All levels of people's court and people's procuratorate should strengthen safeguards for lawyers' practice rights, continuing to promote openness in the trial process and in procuratorial affairs, implementing systems for hearing lawyers' defense and representation opinions, improving mechanisms for facilitating lawyers' participation in litigation, and reducing the space for rent seeking and improper contacts and interactions to the greatest extent possible.

All levels of people's court, people's procuratorate, and judicial administrative organs should establish proper channels for communication between judges or procurators and lawyers, using methods such as joint training, academic symposia, exchanges, and visits to build open and transparent platforms for communication between judges, procurators, and lawyers. Explore establishing mutual evaluation and oversight mechanisms for judges, procurators, and lawyers.

Improve systems for selecting judges and procurators from among lawyers, recommend exceptional lawyers to enter the selection and discipline committees for judges and procurators, support lawyers serving as special overseers in people's courts and people's procuratorates, jointly preserving judicial integrity and justice.

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