SPC Opinion on Strengthening Courtrooms in the New Situation

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Title: The Several Opinions on Further Strengthening People's Tribunals' Efforts in the New Situation

Promulgating Entities:Supreme People's Court

Reference number:

Promulgation Date: 2014-12-4

Expiration date:

Source of text: 人民法院报2014年12月11日第02版 ; http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=475716

[Full text ]:

The Several Opinions on Further Strengthening People's Tribunals' Efforts in the New Situation

Legal Release (2014) No. 21

The following opinion on further strengthening people's courts' work in the new situation is hereby released, so as to fully implement the spirit of the 18th Party Committes, the Third and Fourth Plenary Sessions, and the "CPC Central Committee on Major Issues comprehensive deepening reform" and the "CPC central committee's decision on major issues in comprehensively advancing governance in accordance with law"; to truly bring the role of the people's courts into play and promote the continuous scientific development of people's courts' work.

I. Deeply recognize the new situation and new mission we confront, correctly understand the position of people's court's functions

1.Correctly recognize the new situation. The new situation confronted by the courts today and in the coming period is one of implementing the requirement of comprehensively deepening reforms, promoting the establishment of a peaceful China governed by law, deepening reforms of the judicial system, fulfilling the people's various requirements of the judiciary, and promoting the modernization of the nation's governance system and capacity, The people's courts (courtrooms) are the "basic level of the basic level" in the people's court system, and are an important part of deepening reform of the judicial system and comprehensively promoting governance in accordance with law, and will face more severe tests, more complex problems, and assume a more difficult mission.

2. Deeply understand the new mission. The people's courts will continuously and fully bring the adjudication function into play, actively participating in basic level social governance, implementing initiatives to convenience and benefit the people, performing circuit (roaming) court work in light of local conditions, combining lawful and independent exercise of the adjudication power with expanding democratization of the judiciary, striving to set up 'windows' on a sunshine judiciary, increasing the peopel's judiciary's social identification, promoting the core socialist values. All levels of people's courts shall truly optimize the deployment of people's courtrooms, actively and stably advancing reforms in the people's courtrooms, improving management and safeguard mechanisms in the people's courtrooms, and strengthening the establishment of the people's courtrooms' teams, equipment and informatization. The judicial capacity of the people's courtrooms should continuously increase, bringing about the important role of the people's courts in realizing the overall goals of comprehensively advancing governance in accordance with law, establishing a socialist nation under law, building a socialist legal order.

3. Correctly understand the functional positions. Firmly grasping the judiciary for the people as the main line of judicial work and representing the nation in independently exercising the adjudication power is the core duty of the people's courtrooms. Lawfully supporting other state organs and mass autonomous organizations in resolving conflicts and contradictions, lawfully conducting professional guidance of people's mediation committees in mediating conflicts among the people, and actively participating in basic level social management are important duties of the people's courtrooms.

II. Continuously adhere to justice for the people, truly bringing into play the courts adjudicative function.

4. Optimize the regional distributions. Earnestly implement and carry out the "Supreme People's Court Decision on Comprehensively Strengthening People's Courtroom Work", adhering to the principles of "Three Sides" and "Two Conveniences"; ensuring the basic requirements that " duties are clear, arrangements are reasonable, trials are fair, management is regulated, the corps is steady and safeguards have force" ; combining case numbers, the size of the region, the size of the population, the transportation conditions and the economic and social development situation, to optimize the people's courtroom arrangements and personnel ratios. Actively promote a model of courtroom layout in which central courtrooms are primary and community courts and circuit trial stations supplement; discard wasteful misconceptions removed from reality to avoid wasting judicial resources and difficulties in establishing, managing and maintaining people's courtrooms.

5. Standardize set-up adjustments. Basic level people's courts should follow the urban planning adjustment and unified urban-rural development process to cautiously and stably present plans for adjusting the set-up of the people's courtrooms, reporting up to the high level people's courts for approval at each step. Additional courtrooms may be established where the public demands, the number of cases is high, there are personnel allotted, the area can implement it and funding is secured. People's courtroom set-up adjustment plans that are larger scale, have a broader range influence, require more money or personnel shall be reported up to the Supreme People's Court for review and recording. In economically and socially developed regions where the number of cases is higher, the establishment of courtrooms for specialized trials may be explored as local circumstances advise.

6. Improve case filing mechanisms. Basic level people's courts should scientifically establish work mechanisms for direct case filing with people's courtrooms, strengthening guidance and management of people's courts case filing work. People's courtrooms in economically developed regions where communication is convenient may strengthen management of case flow by unifying basic level case filing. People's courtrooms in mountain, pastoral, forest, or remote areas and other areas where transportation is less convenient, should strengthen and improve work mechanisms for directly filing cases with the people's courtrooms , and use remote filing and other technological means in struggling to resolve difficulties in parties' case filing. After the specific range of cases accepted by a people's courtroom is determined by the people's court to which it belongs, it is announced to the public through set methods. For cases that are to be accepted in accordance with law, it should be that whenever there is a case, it is filed and when there is a suit it is accepted; and for cases that should truly not be accepted, the reason should be explained to the parties.

7. Take hold of trials on people's livelihood. Follow the overall requirements of implementing collective ownership rights, rural contract rights, and flexible land management rights, truly protecting rural land contract relationships and rural land contract management, strengthening property rights protections in rural land contract managements, and ensuring rights to possess, use, benefit from, transfer and manage rural contract land. Properly hear disputes closely related to the people's livelihood in accordance with law, preserving the lawful rights and interests of rural left-behind children, women and elderly persons. Protect the ecology and environment in accordance with law, promoting improvement of residential environments, to provide judicial guarantees for the scientific advancement of the new socialist rural establishment.

8. Strengthen litigation services. Promote the establishment of people's courtroom windows, strive to provide consolidated, one-stop services for litigation parties. Increase guidance on litigation for parties, and provide procedural guidance to parties whose capacity for litigation is not strong. Major evidence that a party has real difficulty providing or that is truly necessary for trial, should be actively collected at an appropriate time on the basis of the party's application or as part of [the court's] duties. Choose and apply appropriate, more economic litigation and procedural measures, to truly reduce parties' litigation burdens. Promote improvement of the legal aid system, increase the strength of judicial aid efforts, truly ensure that the public receives timely and effective legal assistance.

9. Do circuit (roaming) court trials well. Correctly handle the relationship between trial at court and roaming trials, earnestly implementing the "Opinion on Greatly Expanding Roaming Trials to Facilitate Litigation by the People", reasonably establishing service stations for roaming case-handling and litigation, and increasing the efficacy and focus of roaming trials. Working mechanisms in which roaming trials are the norm shall be established in remote minority regions and other regions where public litigation is inconvenient, continuing and carrying forward the Ma Xiwu trial style, expanding models of roaming trial such as vehicle-mounted courtrooms, forming a full coverage judicial service network in which the people's courtrooms are the base with vehicular mobile courtrooms between them, and base level people's courtrooms are the background. Economically developed areas where transportation is convenient should place the emphasis of roaming trial work on increasing social stability and harmony, and have the raising of the people's consciousness of rule of law, maintaining a socialist rule of law system, and carrying forward socialist morals play an important role in the case.

10. Handle the relationship between mediation and trial. Give full play to the unique role of civil mediation in resolving basic level civil disputes, and conduct mediation first in accordance with law in civil disputes appropriate for mediation. Actively sum up the different characteristics of different types of cases and, within the legal framework, with appropriate aid from local rules, respect positive customs and societal opinion, innovate in mediation methods, and strive resolve conflicts at their roots. Resolutely correct harms to parties' lawful rights and interests such as compulsory mediation and unending mediation, as well as incorrect methods that violate trial rules such as having compulsory mediation and case withdrawal indicators. Strive to raise the quality of judgment documents from the people's courts, by emphasizing application of the correct law to increase interpretation of the law and reasoning, giving play to their role in ethical guidance, illuminating rules, maintaining order and upholding virtue.

11. Improved enforcement efforts. In principle, the basic level people's courtrooms are responsible for enforcement in cases tried to completion by people's courtrooms where difficulties in enforcement are quite large and enforcement by the basic level people's court would not influence the prompt realization of the parties' lawful rights and interests, and also where there is sufficient staff and equipment to ensure that enforcement work is smoothly launched; In cases that were enforcement can be concluded at court or where it would be more convenient to the litigant public to have the people's courtrooms do enforcement, the people's courtrooms shall be responsible for enforcement. Regions with capacity may explore having basic level people's courts appoint an enforcement group or other means of building mechanisms for direct enforcement; making litigation as convenient as possible for the masses and increasing the efficacy of enforcement.

12. Improve the people's assessor system. Implement the plan to multiply numbers of people's assessors, in combination with the characteristics of people's courtroom work to expand the proportion of the basic level public included in the selection, and to expand the scope of trials for participation. Standardize the determination measures and processes for people's assessors participation in the adjudication of cases, earnestly implementing the principle of "random selection" , changing the practice of long term positions in a courtroom. Strengthen training of people's assessors before and after they take their post to increase their capacity to perform their duties. Actively explore mechanisms and measures for having people's assessors only participate in issues on the verification of facts. Establish mechanisms for periodic adjustment standards for funding guarantees, promptly reimbursing people's assessors' costs for transportation and lost work.

III. Actively participate in basic level social governance, truly bringing the people's courtrooms' roles as bridge, bond and judicial safeguard into play.

13. Provide judicial protection for resolving conflicts of other institutions and organizations. Fully bring into the play the people's courts binding role in the "four governances" and their role in modeling and ensuring multiple dispute resolution mechanisms, so as to raise make an active contribution in raising the level of which rural and urban governance is by law. Actively increase communication and coordination with public security, judicial and labor dispute arbitration; with rural land contracting arbitration; with people's mediation committees and with other basic level state organs, mass autonomous organizations and trade mediation organizations; and respect and support these in lawfully resolving social conflicts and contradictions, by actively performing linkage work such as judicial confirmations and other mechanisms for resolving conflicts and contradictions through litigation or otherwise.

14. Provide guidance to all forms of mediation organization. Follow the principle of "no shortfalls, overstepping, or incorrect placements" to strengthen professional guidance to the people's mediation committees. Through effectively bringing the adjudication function into play, provide rule of law examples and orientation guidance to people's mediation, administrative mediation and resolution of contradictions and conflicts by mass autonomous organizations. Pay special attention to strengthening and standardizing contact and communication with resident committees, village committees and other base level mass organizations in resolving conflicts and contradictions, jointly maintaining positive social order at the base levels.

15. Participate in local governance through adjudication duties. People's courts shall flexibly use multiple models such as open court days, trial observation, explaining law through cases and hearing questions after a judgments, to actively develop legal publicity, guiding the masses to conscientiously perform their legal duties, social responsibility and family responsibility. The courts should participate in local social governance through methods such as promptly making special reports on conflicts and contradictions related to litigation to local Party committees and people's congresses, and by providing government and other relevant departments with judicial recommendations. Adjudication duties must not be exceeded to participate in local administrative or economic matters, or other matters such as meetings, receptions or publicity not related to the adjudication duties.

IV. actively and steadily advance judicial system reforms, and constantly work to improve the people's court's work system.

16. Launch reform pilots. All levels of people's court should make the people's courtrooms the 'experimental fields' for judicial reform, following the principles of liberated thinking, active advancement, seeking truth from facts, pragmatic operations, caution and stability to promote testing and piloting reforms in the people's courtrooms. Intermediate people's courts in jurisdictional regions with people's courtrooms, select 3-5 people's courtrooms, and conduct pilots of reforms appropriate to be launched in people's courtrooms, and encourage regions with capacity to expand the scope the scope of pilots. Pilot people's courtrooms shall make reports on the pilot work to the basic level people's court in which they reside at least once every half-year and level by level report up to the Supreme People's Court, to fully advance the gathering of judicial system reform experience and innovative capacity.

17. Implement systems for judicial accountability. Obey judicial rules and follow the principle of uniform rights and responsibilities in exploring the establishment of systems for presiding judge responsibility for case handling, clarifying judges' authority and responsibility in handling cases and incrementally making it that presiding judges sign written judicial opinions. Areas with capacity may explore improving systems for case-handling responsibility for collegial panels, clarifying responsibility for individual comments and performance of duties in case handling outcomes. Standardize limits on people's courtroom division (courtroom) heads supervision and management of trial work, so that rights and responsibilities are uniform and clear, and that oversight is standard and orderly.

18.Optimize staff composition. Establish supplementary allotments and dynamic management systems to ensure that 80% of increased allotment are used at the front line of basic levels and trials, and promptly supplement personnel as work requires. Adhere to the path of intensional team development, explore a trial corps based on the volume of trial work and having presiding judges as the center, equipping them with the necessary number of judicial assistants, clerks and other support staff, and use procurement of services to strengthen their support, resolving the problem in a few areas with inadequate personnel of having 'one or two man courtrooms". Improve the system of differentiated management of judicial personnel by type, stabilizing the trial corps, and increasing the effectiveness of judgments.

19. Complete professional safeguards. Promote reforms of systems for judges' advancement and salaries, incrementally increasing basic level judges' salary and benefits based on rank, making it so that people's courtroom judges receive high compensation appropriate to their post, level and judicial rank; and also appropriately slanting of salary and benefit policies towards basic level courts and people's courtrooms. People's courtrooms may first try overtime salary pay, post bonuses, and other methods of compensation. Strengthen occupational risk protections, improve compensation systems for those dying in the line of duty or suffering accidental injury. People's courts at higher levels should pay attention to the characteristics and needs of people's courtrooms when exploring and promoting reforms such as the unified management of local court personnel at the provincial level, and extending judges retirement or allowing post-retirement employment.

20. Improve trial management. Eliminate management performance review indicators that are not in line with trial discipline, not advantageous to developing people's courtrooms' work and easily lead to misdirection. Clarify differentiated standards for simplified cases and difficult or complicated cases, rationally allocating trial resources to bring about diversion between complex and simplified cases. In small claims and other appropriate simple cases, explore using simplified documents such as forms, , writs or element lists to accelerate the trial process. Explore work systems for special concentrated handling of auxiliary trial matters letting judges focus on trial.

21. Strengthen judicial transparency. Fully disclose information on courtroom personnel, management systems, conduct regulations, and litigation guides; Promptly disclose case information, judicial grounds, litigation flow information and judgment outcomes in accordance with law; satisfy the parties' right to know and put an end to "Black Box" operations. In the course of promoting the establishment of the '3 platforms', focus on considering the characteristics of people's courtrooms' work. Actively give play to the special advantages of people's courtrooms grounded in the basic levels, and as allowed while ensuring judicial safety, simplify trial observation formalities to fulfill the public's desire to observe trials; launch judicial openness themed activities, actively inviting and organizing all parts of society to observe trials and watch courtroom work; further give play to the unique role of circuit [roaming]courts in judicial openness and legal publicity, increasing social recognition of the work of the people's courtrooms.

V. Truly strengthen the team construction and organizational leadership, and constantly improve the quality of people's court teams and ensure the level of physical equipment

22. Strengthen Party building efforts. Persist in "placing [Party] branches above the courtrooms. bringing about full coverage by the Party's organization and the Party's work. People's courts with 3 or more Party members should establish a Party branch, and courtrooms with less than 3 Party members may join together to establish a Party branch. People's courtrooms Party branch organizational relationship is with is part of the basic level people's courts. Increase the organizational role of people's courts' Party branches, strictly living within the Party; giving full play to the Party branches roles in education, management and oversight of officials and officers; emphasizing the use of information networks and new media to launch Party building efforts.

23. Select good division chiefs. Levels for People's courtroom organizations and professional ranks for people's courtroom division heads should be implemented, with precedence given to selecting people's courtroom division heads from those section-level judges possessing courtroom work experience. People's courtrooms in directly governed municipalities and people's courtrooms where there are many cases and a heavy workload may select department level judges to serve, and, as work requires, establish deputy division heads. Priority in selection of basic level people's court leadership should be given to those with long experience in the people's courtrooms.

24. Complete systems for periodic rotations and adjunct post training. Orderly advance staff exchanges between people's courtrooms and between people's courtrooms and basic level people's courts other chambers. The heads of people's courtrooms should usually rotate posts once after three to five years in a position. New hires by basic level people's courts should usually first be scheduled to receive one year or more training in a people's court. When basic level people's courts appoint judges to study and train in higher people's courts or courts in developed areas, selection of courtroom judges should be prioritized; in transferring judges, higher people's court should accept a set proportion of judges that have courtroom experience; and when higher level people's courts appoint promising cadres to the basic level, priority should be for arranging adjunct posts and training in people's courtrooms.

25. Implement responsibility for clean and honest government. Basic level people's courts' Party organizations should put people's courtrooms party integrity and clean governance establishment within the scope of primary responsibility, and directly pursue responsibility of persons directly responsible when major violations of law or discipline occur in people's courtrooms; and at the same time, follow provisions on Party integrity and clean governance responsibility to seek accountability from relevant court leading officials. The disciplinary inspection committees of basic level people's courts should truly perform their supervision duties, using methods such as practice inspections and special reviews to promptly discover and correct discipline and work style problems of officers in the people's courts, striclty checking and handling cases of disciplinary violations from a 'zero tolerance' attitude' Division chiefs in people's courtrooms should earnestly perform "one post with two responsibilities" to simultaneously do trial work and also manage their teams well, ensuring a just and clean judiciary in the people's courtrooms.

26. Strengthen the establishment of discipline and work styles. Continuously strengthen education on ideals and beliefs, to guide people's court officials and officers to establish a firm conception of the masses, to promote feelings for the masses, and to ensure true resolution of the “six difficulties and three cases" problem the the public has given strong feedback on. Persist in strict education, strict management and strict supervision, resolutely rectify improper tendencies in the work of the people's courtrooms. Employ informatization measures to fully establish clean governance risk prevention mechanisms meeting the requirements of the special characteristics of people's courtrooms work, truly strengthening supervision and checks on the operation of the people's courtrooms' adjudication power, and raising strength of enforcement of judicial clean governance systems. The establishment of work styles should be put in a prominent position as part of routine work, using systemic protections to improve long term regulation and normalization of judicial work styles.

27.Improve court management. Improve the system of rules for courtroom management, emphasizing regular management and paying attention to improving the performance evaluation mechanisms by hearing the basic level public's comments. Emphasize establishing and publicizing advance models of people's courtrooms, promptly giving awards and commendations to outstanding officials and officers. Strengthen the establishment of cultural and sports venues, put into place systems for leave and convalecence, periodically organize physical examinations and increase the care for and psychological counseling of officials and officers, assisting in resolving troubles in their work, studies or lives.

28.Advance education and training. Periodically launch rotating trainings for division heads in people's courtrooms, making sure that judges in people's courtrooms receive at least 7 days of occupational training per year. Persist in dividing trainings by type and level, fully bringing into play the leading role of judicial training institutions, actively using other training institutions and higher education resources, and using diverse methods to promote the optimization of educational resources for extension to the people's courtrooms. Persist in orienting to demand, sticking to training focus aimed at trial practice. Further increase the degree of support for training efforts in western and minority regions, and increase the cultivation of bilingual judges.

29. Take hold of the establishment of basic facilities. High level people's courts should reasonably arrange annual construction plans in accordance with the requirements of the People's Courts' Basic Facility Establishment "12th 5-year" plan, striving to fully complete the missions of the 12th 5-year-plan in establishing basic level people's court facilities. Establishment of new people's courtrooms is in based on 'the People's Courts Standards for Courtroom Establishment", and a rational establishment scale is determined on the basis of the the number of courtroom personnel allotted, the number of cases accepted annually, and other factors; strictly reviewing the design plan and following the requirements of the "People's Courts Uniform Appearance Standards" in setting up a uniform appearance.

30. Increase capacity to ensure funding. Basic level people's courts should draft budgets for the people's courtrooms on the basis of the courtroom's tasks and equipment, and promptly release funds. Each high level court should strengthen guidance, oversight and review of each people's courtroom's use of funds. There should be a plan for incrementally providing people's courtrooms with equipment necessary for case handling, increasing the level of available equipment each year and improving the capacity for trial work. By 2015, the average equipment allotment for the entire nation's courtrooms should reach the level required by the "The basic level people's court basic business equipment standards guide".

31. Promote Informatization. Higher People's Court should rationally determine the content and model of informatization in the people's courtrooms with the "Tianping Project" as the starting point and focusing on courtroom management and conveniencing and benefiting the people; and increase the extent of investment and financial guarantees. In accordance with the requirements of the Supreme People's Court's "Decision on Comprehensively Strengthening the People's Courts' Informatization Efforts" and the "People's Courts' Five Year Plan for Informatization" the people's courts will enter the basic level courts informatization network system before the end of 2014 for Eastern regions, the end of 2015 for central regions and the end of 2016 for Western regions. Assure that the information system software and hardware equipment are sufficient to meet the needs to the people's courtrooms' litigation services, that people's courtrooms are allotted the necessary equipment and software needed for handling work and cases, optimizing work processes and increasing efficacy and the level of personalization.

32.Place emphasis on security management. Inspection mechanisms should be established and improved, increasing security and prevention awareness, overcoming complacency and feelings of invulnerability, carrying out solid routine security work. According to the requirements "necessity, sufficiency and timeliness" , in principle, each people's courtroom should be equipped with at least one of judicial police, and, as work requires, be equipped with a number of security personnel. Improve the distribution of all kinds of security and prevention facilities and equipment such as for security checks, bomb-detection, monitoring, detection, tests of dangerous liquids; with priority given to improving people's courtrooms material capacity for security and prevention, to ensure that people's courtroms "personal, material and technological defenses" are up to the task, stringently preventing all kinds of major malicious sercuity incidents.

33. Promote theoretic research. All levels of people's court should make positions based on different functions, to create an abundance of conditions for theoretical research innovation, increase all kinds of communication and coordination with legal education establishments, concentrating forces from all sides, exploring the establishment of people's courtrooms theoretical research work mechanisms and deeply developing people's courtrooms theoretic research efforts. Focus research on the position and role of people's courtrooms in the new situation in a Socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics, the people's courtrooms duties and position and role in social governance, as well as overarching and forward looking major topics such as how the people's courtrooms can promote justice for the people, conveniencing the people and benefiting the people in the course of promoting judicial reform. Targeting problems, combine materials and topics from refined theoretic research with the judicial practice of the people's courtrooms, forming theoretical research achievements and truly bringing about the the implementation of those achievements, guiding and promoting the scientific development of the people's courtrooms.

34.Strengthen oversight and guidance. The Party committees of all levels of people's court should truly bear the responsibility for leading the work of the people's courtrooms. Courts at all levels above the intermediate people's court level shall set up a special office to guide the work of the people's court, persist in the principle of guidance by category and increase the focus and effectiveness of this guidance. Oversight and guidance of courtroom work should be made an important part of the everyday work of courts at all levels; improving mechanisms for discovering, responding to , analyzing and resolving problems; and setting up mechanisms for risk analysis, early detection and resolution of major sensitive cases.

 

Supreme People's Court

 

December 4, 2014

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, thank you for this useful translation. It’s my first time on this website so I don’t want to do anything wrong. I was wondering if “people’s tribunal” would be a better term for “renmin fating” than “people’s courtroom”. It seems to be a standard expression and arguably makes more sense too, because a “renmin fating” always has its own building and is not just a room. Conversely, a “renmin fating” usually has several courtrooms. In any event, to avoid confusion, it might be preferable not to translate it as “people’s courts”, since a “renmin fating” is not a court on its own but rather a division of a “people’s court”.
    I hope this is the right forum for feedback and I would be happy to contribute more to this wonderful website in the future :)
    Nils

    • You are doing everything right, Nils, although you might want to update your profile picture.

      Courtroom is a lousy translation, but an attempt to distinguish fating from fayuan for most of the reasons you point out. Although a fating does not necessarily have several courtrooms in it, particularly at the lower levels of court, and may not even have a building if it is a 巡回法庭 of a lower court.

      Tribunal is the convention, but it never feels right to me because it implies a ‘court’ to me.
      Court division is the most accurate, and used elsewhere on the site, but you can see the awkwardness in using it here…..

      Any other ideas?

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