In China, Courts are in charge of enforcing effective legal instruments, which usually include :
(1) judgments/rulings in civil cases;
(2) the parts of judgments/ rulings that relate to property in criminal cases;
(3) arbitral awards; and
(4) court judgments/rulings and arbitral awards from foreign jurisdiction (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan).
Within the Court, an enforcement department is responsible for organizing and handling enforcement work. It is noted that the enforcement department is not an independent governmental agency but an internal department in the Court. The PRC Civil Procedure Law (CPL) never expressly defines the enforcement department; however, it stipulates that the enforcement work shall be carried out by execution officers and that it is the discretion of courts to set up an enforcement division as the case may be. In practice, Chinese courts at all levels generally establish their own enforcement departments, for the purpose of organizing and managing the enforcement work of execution officers.
The enforcement departments of Chinese courts at the primary and intermediate levels undertake most enforcement work. Pursuant to the CPL, it is the court of first instance which renders the judgment/ruling, or the court at the same level as the court of instance, where the property subject to execution is located, that shall be responsible for the enforcement work. In practice, considering that the majority of first instance courts are primary courts and intermediate courts, the enforcement departments of these courts are mainly in charge of enforcement work.
China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) also sets up its Enforcement Department, whose primary functions include (1) executing judgments and rulings, which fall into the statutory enforcement power of the SPC; (2) handing enforcement review cases, and petitions for retrial of legally effective verdicts issued by lower courts; (3) coordinating and settling disputes arising from the enforcement work in cross-provincial regions; (4) dealing with the petition filed through letters and visits (in Chinese, the Xinfang (信访) system) with regard to the enforcement work; and (5) providing guidance on the application of IT in enforcement by courts at all levels nationwide.
In 2014, the SPC’s Enforcement Department was also designated as the Enforcement Steering Office, upon which the Chain of Command in Enforcement (CCE) system was established. The system was later connected to by numerous Enforcement Command Offices or Enforcement Command Centers, which were set up by courts at primary, intermediate and high levels nationwide.
The CCE system is also working closely with other governmental organs and financial entities to jointly carry out the inquiry and control of the judgment debtor and his/its property, as well as to impose credit discipline.
The CCE system currently possesses six features, including:
(1) enabling the superior court to conduct remote command of the lower court’s enforcement work;
(2) enabling the Court to conduct the online enquiry and control of the judgment debtor and his/its property;
(3) enabling the Court to impose credit discipline on the dishonest judgment debtor;
(4) facilitating the Court’s management of enforcement work;
(5) providing the parties with open access to information regarding the enforcement case; and
(6) supporting the Court in the analysis and decision taking related to enforcement work.
The CCE system enables the SPC and every high people’s court to: (1) direct, coordinate and supervise its lower courts in handling major enforcement cases; (2) coordinate the property inquiry and control in cross-provincial or cross-regional enforcement cases; and (3) respond to emergencies.
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