I. China's Court System and Reform Process
II. Ensuring the Independent and Fair Exercise of Adjudicative Power by People's Courts by Law
III. Strengthening the Mechanism of Judicial Protection of Human Rights
IV. Judicial Power Serving the People
V. Improving the Judicial Accountability System
VI. Deepening Judicial Openness
VII. Promoting Judicial Democracy
VIII. Promoting Specialized Trial and Flat Management
IX. Improving the Regularization, Specialization and Professionalization of Judicial personnel
X. Promoting Informatization of Courts
IV. Judicial Power Serving the People
Exercising judicial power for the people fairly is the primary work of people's courts. The Supreme People's Court has been reforming the system of acceptance and handling of cases, improving the national judicial assistance system, pushing forward the establishment of litigation service centers and people's tribunals, improving the multiple dispute resolution mechanisms, deepening the reform of enforcement system and mechanism, carrying out the pilot program of public interest litigations and pilot reform on the methods of adjudication of family affairs and other measures, to enhance the exercise of judicial power for the people and make the people have a stronger sense of gain in the judicial reform.
Implementing the case filing register system in an all-round way. In May 2015, the Supreme People's Court reformed the court case acceptance system by changing the case filing review system into the case filing register system, which requires each case that should be accepted and handled by the people's court shall be placed on file and each lawsuit shall be accepted and handled by the people's court, thereby effectively solving the "difficulty in case filing". In 2016, the courts nationwide registered 16,302,994 cases in total, up 12.48% year on year, with an on-the-spot case registration rate of 95%, among which civil cases increased by 6.58%, administrative cases increased by 2.31% and criminal cases of private prosecution increased by 74.44% respectively year on year. The people’s courts at all levels have made continuous efforts to consolidate the achievements already made in the reform of case filing register system and with the aid of information technology, to improve the efficiency and convenience of case filing. The courts in all regions have simplified the case filing procedure and by means of notification of case filing, one-off list of supplements and corrections, request for response within prescribed time limit and otherwise, ensure successful filing of cases by the litigants in one attempt. The courts have also made efforts to promote online and electronic case filing, and by means of self-service equipment, litigation service website, 12368 litigation service platform, mobile client and other media, opened the online case filing, online submission of documents, online payment of fees and other functions, to further facilitate case filing. The courts in Pudong, Shanghai developed a "two dimension code" self-service case filing system, through which more than 1,000 cases were filed within one month, with the average time of filing of a case being only 15 minutes. The courts in Quanzhou, Fujian took the lead in introducing the cross-city and trans-regional case filing service, rendering litigants able to complete the case filing procedures at any court in the city. The courts in Beijing established the mechanisms of supervision over case filing and rapid handling of complaints over case filing, to promptly respond to and rectify the problems existing in case filing reported or complained by the litigants. In 2016, the courts in Beijing accepted and handled complaints of failure in case filing lodged by more than 1,300 people, thereby ensuring the effective implementation of the case filing register system.
Enhancing litigation services. The Supreme People's Court promulgated the guidelines on promoting the establishment of litigation service centers at people's courts. The courts in all regions have generally established litigation service centers, and with the aid of information technology, established litigation service halls, litigation service websites, 12368 litigation service hotline, mobile client and other litigation service platforms, to satisfy people's diversified judicial demands. At present, 99% of the courts nationwide have established the litigation service halls, over 2,200 courts have opened litigation service websites, over 800 courts have opened mobile litigation service APPs, and over 1,900 courts have opened 12368 litigation service hotline. The services provided by such service platforms to the people include online case filing, online payment of fees, online mediation, access to information, submission of documents, examination of case files, electronic service of legal process, contact with judges, etc. The courts in Tianjin have made efforts to improve the standardization of litigation services and provide special litigation services such as video mediation, mental guidance and palm-top court. The courts in Shanghai have established a big data litigation service system centering on litigation service halls and comprising 11 sub-systems, including 12368 litigation service platform and lawyer service platform, formed a comprehensive litigation service system providing more than 30 kinds of services, including case filing and registration, guidance to litigation, post-judgment answer to questions and legal assistance, and basically achieved the goal of having litigation service centers provide all the litigation and non-litigation services beyond the scope of court trials. The courts in Anhui have established family affairs, labor, property and other dispute mediation windows at their litigation service centers, as well as workstations of members of the Party congress, people's congress and people’s political consultative conference, lawyer's offices and people's mediation rooms, and carried out online, remote and diversified mediation of controversies and disputes, and achieved remarkable success. The courts in Zhejiang have promulgated the discipline and code of conduct for service windows, unified service facilities and standards, publicized the list of services, and actively explored the establishment of centralized service of legal process, preservation and expertise mechanisms, thereby effectively standardizing the litigation services and improving the level of litigation services.
Enhancing the establishment of people's tribunals. The Supreme People's Court has promulgated the guidelines on the work of people's tribunals, actively developed the structure of courts relying mainly on central courts and supplemented by community courts and circuit adjudication points, and optimized the regional layout of people’s courts and proportion of judicial personnel. The courts in Henan have established a centralized court information control center, realized networking and data sharing among all the 184 courts and 698 detached tribunals in the province, developed the electronic signature system and the function of trans-regional circulation of electronic case files and realized cross-county (city) filing of certain cases, enabling litigants to file cases with local courts or people’s tribunals. In light of the characteristics of mountain area, the courts in Chongqing have vigorously pushed forward the establishment of court liaison points, established 272 litigation stations and 1,142 liaison offices, and employed 6,227 liaison persons to facilitate the filing of lawsuits by the public.
Improving the multiple dispute resolution mechanisms. On April 9, 2015, the Supreme People's Court held a meeting on pushing forward the reform of multiple dispute resolution mechanisms in the courts nationwide, designated 50 pilot courts in this regard and set the modern principles of dispute resolution featuring leadership by the State, promotion by the judiciary, participation by the society, adoption of multiple methods and safeguard by rule of law. On June 28, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the Opinions on Further Deepening the Reform of Multiple Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in People’s Courts and the Provisions on Mediation Specially Invited by People's Courts, to effectively guide the reform of multiple dispute resolution mechanisms in the people's courts nationwide. The Supreme People’s Court has established the multiple securities and futures-related dispute resolution mechanisms with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the litigation-mediation connection mechanism for insurance-related disputes with the China Insurance Regulatory Commission respectively. As of December 2016, the courts nationwide had established 2338 litigation-mediation connection centers, and recruited nearly 20,000 specially invited mediation organizations and more than 60,000 specially invited mediators. With the instruction and assistance of the people's courts, these mediation organizations have solved over 10 million disputes every year. The people's courts at all levels have established litigation-mediation connection platforms in various forms which have operated in a standard manner and exercised the functions of diversion of cases, advance mediation, mandated mediation, entrusted mediation, judicial homologation, etc; established a lot of new systems such as specially invited mediation, full-time court mediators, mediation by lawyers, notarized mediation and mediation by experts; and improved the mechanism of connection between courts and administrative organs, people’s mediation organizations, trade mediation organizations, commercial mediation organizations, arbitration institutions and notary offices. The higher people’s courts in Beijing, Hebei, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Sichuan and other regions and the Shanghai Maritime Court have carried out the pilot program of establishment of online mediation platforms to improve the efficiency of dispute resolution. The courts at two levels in Meishan, Sichuan fully mobilized and utilized various kinds of resources for dispute resolution, solved 80.72% of controversies and disputes by means of alternative dispute resolution between 2014 and 2016, with only 7.06% of cases entering into the judicial procedures to be adjudicated, thereby creating the "Meishan Experience" connecting the litigation and alternative dispute resolution. The Yuemu District People's Court in Changsha, Hunan has improved the pre-litigation mediation procedure for specific types of cases, adopted a three-in-one dispute resolution mode comprising pre-litigation diversion, in-process entrustment and judicial homologation, made full use of social mediation resources and solved a lot of disputes outside the litigation procedure, thereby greatly improving the judicial efficiency. The courts at two levels in Maanshan, Anhui developed an upgraded version of multiple reforms, solved over 25,300 disputes prior to the litigation procedure by various means of mediation, conducted cross-city, remote and online mediations, and achieved a successful rate of online mediation of 95.1% in 2016. Zhejiang has taken the lead in establishing an online e-commerce court and arranged for mediators to conduct mediations online, which are not subject to time, space or regional limitations and can save the litigation costs of litigants, as a result of which the number of disputes entering into the litigation procedure has been reduced by half.
Improving the national judicial assistance system. On July 1, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the opinions on strengthening and standardizing the work of national judicial assistance conducted by the people's courts, requiring unity of acceptance and handling of cases, scope of assistance, standard of assistance, fund guarantee and appropriation of funds, and realization of "administration of the assistance system by law and handling of assistance cases according to judicial procedures". On September 18, 2016, the Supreme People's Court set up the judicial assistance committee, and the people's courts at all levels nationwide also set up their judicial assistance committees, which marks that the work of judicial assistance entered into a new era. In 2014 and 2015, the Central Government and local governments allocated RMB2.47 billion and RMB2.949 billion to the judicial assistance funds respectively, which went to over 80,000 persons. In the work of judicial assistance, the courts in Tianjin have strengthened the joint actions with the assistance provided by other judicial organs, social organizations and other provinces and cities, to realize seamless connection between judicial assistance and social security, and improve the accuracy, coverage and timeliness of judicial assistance. In the past two years, the courts in Tianjin handled 2,398 cases of national judicial assistance, and gave RMB61,549,600 in judicial assistance, namely RMB25,700 per case. The courts in Sichuan have classified the cases of judicial assistance into complicated ones and simple ones, had the cases of small-amount judicial assistance (in the amount of less than RMB30,000) handled by the business tribunals, and the cases of large-amount judicial assistance (in the amount of more than RMB30,000) considered by the judicial assistance committees, thereby simplifying the assistance process, and developed and operated an online judicial assistance platform to promote online, visual and standardized handling of cases of judicial assistance.
Deepening the reform on the handling of letters and visits involving lawsuits. The Supreme People's Court has been actively promoting the handling of letters and visits involving lawsuits in accordance with the law. The courts at all levels have been improving the working mechanism of separating litigation from letters and visits, solving the people's lawful and reasonable claims with earnest efforts, and safeguarding the order of handling of letters and visits involving lawsuits and social stability. The Supreme People's Court has strengthened the informatization of the handling of letters and visits involving lawsuits, preliminarily established the big data platform of the Supreme People's Court for handling letters and visits involving lawsuits which has five main functions, including reception of visitors, handling of letters, online video system to receive complaints and appeals, online filing of complaints and appeals, review and investigation of cases, and has realized interconnection with the higher people's courts. In 2016, through the platform, the courts nationwide received and handled 1.557,000 visits and 824,000 letters, received 14,000 complaints and appeals through the online video system, handled 12,000 complaints and appeals filed online, and reviewed and investigated 6,330 cases in total. The online video system to receive complaints and appeals has been connected with 3,445 courts, with a connection rate of 93.8%, thereby basically realizing the goal of enabling the people to lodge their complaints and appeals with the higher people's courts or the Supreme People’s Court without going to the provincial capitals or Beijing.
Pushing forward the reform of the enforcement system. In order to solve the "difficulty in enforcement", the Supreme People's Court promulgated the Work Program for Basically Solving the Difficulty in Enforcement within Two to Three Years, aiming to vigorously pushing forward the reform of the enforcement system and mechanism. The people's courts are implementing the reform of separating trial from enforcement, and, in addition to the separation of the power of adjudication from the power of enforcement, have further divided the power of enforcement into the power to adjudicate on enforcement and the power to implement enforcement actions. The people’s courts in all regions have explored the establishment of adjudicative tribunals for enforcement or special collegiate panels to exercise the powers to adjudicate on enforcement in a centralized manner, and have their enforcement bureaus or tribunals be responsible for the implementation of enforcement actions, thereby forming an enforcement command system that integrates the courts at all levels, acts jointly with the outsiders, is standard and efficient, and responds rapidly, and realizing centralized management, command and coordination of enforcement among the courts at all the four levels nationwide. The Supreme People’s Court has improved the online enforcement examination and control mechanism, and established the mechanism of rapid information sharing and cooperation in online enforcement examination and control with the Ministry of Public Security. Over 3,100 courts nationwide have opened the online enforcement examination and control system, and most higher courts have established the three-level "point-to-point" online enforcement examination and control system covering the courts within their respective jurisdictions, thereby fundamentally changing the mode of enforcement examination and control and improving the efficiency of enforcement actions. Since the Supreme People's Court made the arrangement for "basically solving the difficulty in enforcement within two to three years", the number of cases of application for enforcement received has increased by 24%, and the number of cases concluded has increased by 34%.
Speeding up the reform of the mechanism for punishing dishonest persons subject to enforcement. In order to effectively crack down on the acts of maliciously avoiding enforcement, safeguard the authority of judicature and promote the building of social credit system, the Supreme People's Court has strengthened the supervision, warning and punishment over or against dishonest persons subject to enforcement, and in conjunction with the related departments of the Central Government, formulated the opinions on speeding up the establishment of the mechanism of supervision, warning and punishment over or against dishonest persons subject to enforcement, which provide 37 punishment measures under 11 categories, greatly deterring persons subject to enforcement. In conjunction with over 60 State organs and entities including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Credit Reference Center of the People's Bank of China, the Supreme People's Court has established a punishment website against dishonest persons subject to enforcement, published the information of "deadbeats" who refuse to the enforcement of judgments and rulings online, and taken restrictive measures against them, such as restricting them from going abroad, inviting or submitting tenders and extravagant spending. As of the end of 2016, 6,440,000 dishonest persons subject to enforcement had been disclosed; 5,760,000 applications for air tickets and 2,070,000 applications for train tickets had been refused; over 71,000 dishonest persons subject to enforcement had been disqualified by the industrial and commercial administrations and market supervision authorities nationwide as legal representatives, directors, supervisors or senior officers of various businesses; and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had refused more than 550,000 applications for loans or issue of credit cards filed by dishonest persons subject to enforcement, amounting to more than RMB6.81 billion in total. A pattern of punishment against dishonesty that a person who loses creditability will be subject to restrictions everywhere has been basically formed throughout the country.
Promoting online judicial auction. The method of online judicial auction has been adopted nationwide to improve the openness and transparency of enforcement. On August 3, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the provisions on certain issues concerning online judicial auction by the people's courts, specifying the subject, mechanism, procedure, legal effect, assumption of liabilities and other issues in respect of online auctions. In 2016, the Supreme People's Court authorized five online auction platforms available to the parties involved, which were selected through social evaluation. So far, over 1,600 courts from 28 province-level regions have joined the judicial auction platform on www.taobao.com, on which over 320,000 online auctions have been conducted, and over 150,000 pieces of items have been put up for auction, realizing proceeds of more than RMB190 billion in total, with 89% of items successfully sold by auction at a premium rate of 42% on average, and saving commissions amounting to RMB4.2 billion for the parties involved. The people's courts in all regions have adopted the ideas and modes of Internet and widely implemented the online auction system according to their actual situations. The courts in Zhejiang opened an online judicial auction platform on www.taobao.com as early as in June 2012, realized the whole-process disclosure of judicial auctions, and maximized the realization value of the assets put up for auction. From January to October 2016, the courts in Zhejiang successfully sold 18,800 pieces of items by auction, with 99.99% of items entering the auction process and 93.01% of items successfully sold by auction, 17 and 27 percent higher than those of traditional auction respectively, and saving commissions amounting to RMB923 million for the parties involved. Haikou Intermediate People's Court, Hainan successfully effectuated the transfer of the right to use a sea area and land at the price of RMB347 million by online auction, which is the highest knock-down price obtained in the transfer of the right to use a sea area by auction concluded on the judicial auction platform on www.taobao.com.
Carrying out the pilot program of public interest litigation. The Supreme People's Court has vigorously pushed forward the reform of the public interest litigation system, and further defined the rules for trail of public interest litigations. The number of cases of environment-related civil public interest litigation brought by social organizations has increased significantly, which involved 21 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government and water taking, atmosphere, soil, protection of endangered plants, protection of cultural relics and ruins, and other environmental issues. Since January 2015, the courts nationwide have accepted and handled 101 cases of environment-related civil public interest litigation brought by social organizations. Since the launch of the pilot program of public interest litigation in July 2015, the courts nationwide have accepted and handled 43 cases of environment-related public interest litigation brought by the procuratorial organs, including 17 cases of civil public interest litigation, 25 cases of administrative public interest litigation, and 1 case of administrative and civil public interest litigation, 11 of which have been concluded.
Pushing forward the reform of the method and working mechanism for cases of family affairs. On April 21, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the guidelines on carrying out the pilot reform of the method and working mechanism for the cases of family affairs, exploring the ways to solve family disputes in a professional, socialized and human-oriented manner, and actively pushing forward the pilot reform of the method and working mechanism for the cases of family affairs. The pilot courts have actively explored the establishment of special family tribunals or judicial teams for family affairs, introduced family affairs investigator, social worker's care, child psychologist and other methods to provide mental guidance and other professional services to the parties involved, through the integration of judicial, administrative and social resources, established new mechanisms for comprehensively solving family disputes, and appropriately extended the time limit for the trial of cases of family affairs, to effectively solve family disputes and controversies and ensure that people live in peace and work happily.
V. Improving the Judicial Accountability System
It is an objective requirement of the law of justice that one who tries a case shall have the power to decide the case and be responsible for his decision. In September 2015, the Supreme People's Court promulgated certain opinions on improving the judicial accountability system in the people's courts, to guide the pilot courts in the reform of the judicial accountability system. Since the national conference on pushing forward the reform of the judicial system held in July 2016, the reform of the judicial accountability system has been implemented in the courts nationwide in an all-round way on the basis of judge quotas and centering on the reform of the operating mechanism of adjudicative power and the accountability system for judges and collegiate panels handling cases.
Exploring the mode of judicial team. The primary and intermediate pilot courts have optimized the staffing in light of their actual situations, organized judicial teams comprising judges, judge assistants, clerks and other auxiliary personnel, formulated respective lists of responsibilities of judges, judge assistants and clerks, established the new judicial work mechanism with judges at the core and the team members cooperating with each other closely, thereby improving the judicial efficiency by more than 20% generally. Futian District People’s Court in Shenzhen, Guangzhou has established 59 judicial teams each comprising 1 collegial panel + 3 judge assistants, or 1 judge + 1 judge assistant, or 1 judge + N judge assistants or otherwise, and 15 quick-track sentencing, quick mediation, quick trial and quick enforcement teams comprising 11.6% of regular judges and 12.4% of auxiliary personnel of the Court, which handled about 50% of the cases newly accepted by the Court. From June to November 2016, each judge of the Court had concluded 1,129 cases on average. Huaxi People's Court in Guiyang, Guizhou has organized criminal judicial teams, each comprising one judge, one judge assistant and one clerk, and civil judicial teams, each comprising one judge, two judge assistants and two clerks. Since the launch of the said reform, the Court's number of the cases concluded by each judge on average, the rate of cases the judgments on which were announced at the court and the average duration of trial of cases have been significantly higher than the average levels of the City. Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court has organized 44 relatively fixed judicial teams in its tribunals, each comprising three to five judges, revoked the fixed chief judge system, and had the judge responsible for a case act as the chief judge. Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court has assigned at least one judge assistant to each collegial panel, and defined the regulations on judge assistants’ participation in adjudicative work, thereby effectively reducing the routine work undertaken by judges in judicial procedures. The circuit courts of the Supreme People's Court have randomly organized collegiate panels, each comprising one chief judge, one judge assistant and one clerk to adjudicate cases.
Reforming the mechanism for execution of written judgments. The pilot courts have revoked the system of asking for instructions and examination and approval level by level, established the system that one who tries a case shall have the power to decide the case and be responsible for his decision. Except the cases considered and decided by the judicial committees, the court presidents no longer review or sign the written judgments on the cases of which they have not directly participated in the trial. In Shanghai, since the launch of the reform, the ratio of the cases directly decided by the sole judges or collegiate panels has reached 99.99%, and only 0.1% of the cases concluded have been submitted to the judicial committees for discussion. The judgments made by the circuit courts of the Supreme People's Court will be directly issued after being signed by all the members of a collegiate panel.
Promoting regular handling of cases by court presidents. All the pilot courts have set quotas for handling of cases by their presidents registered as judges and specified the duties of court presidents to handle cases, so that many officials of intermediate and primary courts now become the main force in case handling. The court presidents in Shanghai handled 117,400 cases in total in 2015, and 141,400 cases in total in 2016, up 20. 4% year on year. In Beijing, the number of cases handled by court presidents increased by 52% year on year in 2016, while the number of cases submitted to the judicial committees for discussion decreased by 45% year on year. From 2015 to 2016, the court presidents in Jiangsu handled 1,099,000 cases in total, accounting for 38.5% of the total cases concluded. Guangdong Higher People’s Court promulgated guidelines on handling of cases by court presidents, expressly providing that the court presidents registered as judges shall take the lead in handling four types of cases, including major, difficult and complicated cases and those cases of guiding significance in application of law. In 2016, the presidents of courts at three levels in Guangdong participated in the handling of 701,600 cases and presided at the trials of 482,200 cases in total, up 24.72% and 30.21% year on year respectively, and presided at the trials of 88,700 major, difficult and complicated cases, up 31.39% year on year. The pilot courts have given full play to the rich experience of court presidents in adjudication, and organized collegiate panels comprising presidents, vice presidents and members of judicial committees to directly adjudicate major, difficult and complicated cases. The senior judges have taken the lead in handling major and difficult cases, for example, He Rong, second-grade judge and Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court, presided at the re-trial of the Archangelos Gabriel salvage case, and Tao Kaiyuan, second-grade judge and Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court, presided at the trial of administrative disputes over "Qiaodan" trademark.
Standardizing the management and supervision over trials. Each pilot court has formulated a list of powers and responsibilities of court presidents to regulate the court presidents' exercise of the power of management and supervision over trials, and provides that the court presidents may only express their opinions on specific cases publically through the conference of professional judges and the judicial committee, and such opinions shall be wholly recorded on the working platform. The Supreme People's Court no longer appraises the performance of or ranks the higher people's courts, and requests the higher people's courts to cancel unreasonable indicators of appraisal for the courts within their respective jurisdictions, specifically, except the rate of conclusion of cases within the time limit and other necessary restraint indicators required to be kept under the law, all the other indicators of appraisal shall only be adopted for reference in statistics and analysis. In order to promote the standardization of judicial practices, Tianjin Higher People's Court has issued 14 normative documents on judicial practices in two batches, covering judicial procedures, judicial discretion, case quality, judicial powers and responsibilities, judicial transparency, litigation services and other aspects. Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong promulgated the guidelines on the judicial accountability system to promote the exercise of judicial powers under the guidance of strict rules and standards. Chengdu Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan has established a judicial procedure management system to follow up, give hints and pre-warnings on and supervise 183 links in the judicial procedure, and, in terms of the turnover of appeals which is apt to be out of control, has litigation service centers accept appeals and turn over the files of appeal cases in a centralized manner.
Establishing the system of conference of professional judges. The pilot courts have generally established the system of conference of professional judges to provide the collegiate panels with advice on correct application of law and opinions for their reference. Beijing No. 3 People’s Court has improved the rules on conference of judges, entered meeting minutes into the sub-files for reference, and through summary of the results of the conferences of judges, formulated the guidelines on the adjudication of over 20 types of cases, including cases of labor dispute, traffic accidents and rural land contract, thereby unifying the standard of adjudication. Chongqing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court has established the systems of joint conference of judges in the tribunals and the cross-departmental conference of judges, with about 80% of the advice expressed at the conferences of judges being adopted and the number of cases submitted to the judicial committee for discussion being reduced by 42% year on year, thereby giving full play to the service and consultation functions of the conferences of judges and the function of filtration of the cases submitted to the judicial committee for discussion.
Improving the system of guiding cases and reference cases. The Supreme People's Court had formulated the detailed implementing rules for guiding cases, and published 77 guiding cases in 15 batches as at the end of 2016. The cases tried by the courts at all levels that are similar to any guiding cases published by the Supreme People's Court in terms of basic circumstances of the cases and applicable laws shall be adjudicated by reference to the main reasons for the adjudication of such guiding cases and refer to such guiding cases in the statement of reasons for judgments. In April 2015, the Supreme People’s Court established the IP Case Guiding and Research (Beijing) Base at the Beijing IP Court to summarize and publish rules and experience in respect of adjudication of IP cases in a timely manner. Hainan Higher People's Court has established a database of reference cases comprising 318 selected reference cases of the Province, and given pre-job training to registered judges, so as to effectively reduce the phenomenon of "different judgments on the same case". Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong has promulgated the guidelines on the adjudication of 78 criminal, civil, administrative, enforcement and other cases for reference in the adjudication of similar cases.
Reforming the system of judicial committee. The Supreme People’s Court has promulgated the guidelines on the reform of the system of judicial committee, requesting strengthening the guiding function of the judicial committees in summarizing experience in adjudication, unifying the application of law and discussing and deciding on major issues in respect of adjudication. The pilot courts have generally adopted the mechanism of pre-filtration of the issues submitted to the judicial committees for discussion, and defined the scope of the cases that should be submitted to the judicial committees for discussion. In addition to the cases required by the law and the major and complicated cases involving foreign affairs, security and social stability of the State, the judicial committees shall focus on the application of law in major, difficult and complicated cases. Since the launch of the reform, the number of cases submitted to the judicial committees in all regions for discussion has decreased significantly. The whole course of discussions by the judicial committees shall be tape-recorded or videotaped; the systems of appraisal of performance of the judicial committee and internal notification of the result of appraisal have been established and improved; and all the members of the judicial committee present and voting at the meetings of the judicial committees shall sign the meeting minutes.
Improving the system of lifelong responsibility for the quality of cases handled and the accountability system for misjudged cases. The Supreme People's Court has promulgated the relevant regulations, expressly providing that a judge shall be responsible for his/her performance of duties of adjudication, and for the quality of cases handled by him/her for life, and that a judge shall be held liable for illegal adjudication if he/she intentionally violates the laws in adjudication or commits any gross negligence resulting in any wrong judgment and causing any serious consequences; specifying the circumstances and conditions for exemption from responsibility for adjudication; on the principle that one who has powers shall assume corresponding responsibilities and one who is derelict in his duty shall be held liable, specifying the responsibility for supervision and management that a court president shall assume if he/she improperly exercises any power of supervision and management over trials due to intentional or gross negligence; and improving the procedures for the determination, investigation, review and affixation of responsibility in respect of misjudged cases to strictly hold judges liable for illegal adjudication.
Establishing the system for punishing judges. On October 12, 2016, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly promulgated the opinions on the establishment of a system for punishing judges and public prosecutors, which require the establishment of a system for punishing judges under which the people’s courts and judge punishment committees assume their respective responsibilities, and the establishment of judge punishment committees at the provincial level comprising civilians and judge representatives from courts at the three levels, which shall be responsible for reviewing whether any judge has breached the responsibility for adjudication or committed any intentional or gross negligence or should assume the liability for illegal adjudication, and proposing punishments to be meted out. The judge punishment committees generally review cases by means of hearing, so as to safeguard the rights of the judges involved to make statements and defenses and produce evidences, and realize both goals of imposing punishments in a timely manner according to law and ensuring job security.
Establishing the system of recording and affixing responsibilities for interference with cases by insiders of judicial organs. The Supreme People's Court has formulated the measures for enforcing the regulations on recording and affixing responsibilities for interference with cases by insiders of judicial organs, which require that the people's courts at all levels shall each establish a special database of interference with cases by insiders of judicial organs in their case information management systems; and the case handlers of the people's courts shall record the names of insiders of judicial organs who interfere with the cases handled by them outside the legal procedures or relevant working procedures, the departments they work in, their positions and the specific circumstances of such interference in the said special databases in a timely, complete and truthful manner, and keep the relevant documentations.
Improving the trial-level system. In order to adapt to the situations of economic and social development, meet the needs of civil lawsuits and reasonably defining the respective functions of the courts at four levels in the trial of civil and commercial cases, the Supreme People's Court adjusted the thresholds for the jurisdiction of the higher people's courts and intermediate people's courts over civil and commercial cases of first instance, and increased the threshold of the subject value of civil and commercial cases of first instance under the jurisdiction of primary courts; provided that the cases of disputes concerning marriage, inheritance, family, property service, compensation for personal injuries, reputation right, traffic accidents and labor and cases of mass disputes shall generally be subject to the jurisdiction of primary courts, while major, difficult and complicated cases, new types of cases and typical cases in terms of application of law may be adjudicated by a people's court at a higher level as determined by it in its sole discretion or at the request of a people's court at a lower level. In February 2015, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the judicial interpretations on certain issues concerning strict application of order for retrial and remand for retrial in the supervisory procedure for the trial of civil cases, which unify the standard for order for retrial and review of cases, strictly prohibit remand for retrial at will, and request that if a people’s court at a higher level orders to retry a case or remands a case for retrial, it shall elaborate in the ruling the detailed reasons for such order for retrial or remand for retrial.
Pushing forward the reform of the mechanism of separating complicated cases from simply cases. On September 12, 2016, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the opinions on furthering separation of complicated cases from simple cases and optimizing the allocation of judicial resources, instructing the people's courts at all levels to give full play to the functions of the multi-level litigation system, such as the special procedure, urge procedure, small-amount litigation procedure, quick-track sentencing procedure, summary procedure and ordinary procedure, adopt measures such as pre-litigation confirmation of addresses, pre-trial meeting, court trial focusing on essential factors, writ, exemplary litigation, professional trial, centralized management of auxiliary trial affairs, etc., make full use of the achievements in informatization, and use the ideas and means of reform to solve the contradiction of many cases for few persons, to seek the unity of judicial impartiality and efficiency. More than 90 primary courts in Jiangsu have established tribunals for quick-track adjudication of cases involving small amounts, each of which comprises one judge and one clerk, adopts the mode of adjudication focusing on essential factors, simplifies the written judgments, announces judgments at the court in principle, and concludes a case within 20 days on average, with nearly 70% of cases withdrawn after mediation. Shenyang Intermediate People's Court in Liaoning has actively implemented the system of pre-court meeting to handle procedural affairs, such as notification of rights and obligations and petition for challenge, prior to court trials, clarify the respective opinions of the plaintiffs and defendants, determine non-disputed facts, identify the points at issue and urge the parties involved to produce evidences relating to such points at issue; with respect to the cases the circumstances of which were simple and clear and the disputes involved in which were not serious, made effort to conclude such cases through mediation; with respect to difficult and complicated cases and cases involving serious disputes, attempted to sort out ideas about the court trials. Since the launch of the reform, the duration of court trial has been reduced by about 50 minutes on average. Wenling People’s Court in Zhejiang has established a service management center, which has nine full-time servers, and developed service management software, opened its official WeChat account, strengthened coordination with the postal offices in service, and preliminarily realized informatization of the whole course and centralized and standard management of the service process, thereby improving the efficiency of service.
VI. Deepening Judicial Openness
In order to further promote judicial impartiality, safeguard the people's right to know, participate and supervise, and improve the judicial transparency and public credibility of the judiciary, the Supreme People’s Court has taken the lead in making overall plans and arrangements, simultaneously advancing the establishment of four platforms for openness of judicial process, openness of court trail, openness of written judgments, openness of enforcement of judgments and enforcement actions, and with the aid of modern information technology and new media platforms, continuously expanding judicial openness in both depth and scope. In November 2016, the 24th Session of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress heard and reviewed the report on deepening judicial openness and promoting judicial impartiality delivered by the Supreme People's Court, and highly commended the work of judicial openness.
Promoting openness of judicial process. In November 2014, the China Judicial Process Information Online was officially opened. So far, all the provincial-level courts nationwide have established unified judicial process information disclosure platforms covering all the courts at three levels within their respective jurisdictions, all of which are connected with the China Judicial Process Information Online, thereby realizing full coverage and sharing of judicial process information nationwide. From the date of acceptance of a case, the parties to the case and their process attorneys can, by entering their valid certificate numbers, log onto the platform to check and download the process information and documents relating to the case at any time, and receive procedural legal process on line. As of the end of December 2016, the China Judicial Process Information Online had released 520,000 pieces of open trial information, and published 1,838 announcements of court session, and received over 985,000 page views in total. From its trial operation in August 2014 to the end of 2016, the website has disclosed the judicial process information of all the 25,509 cases handled by the Supreme People's Court to the parties involved and their process attorneys, released 525,000 pieces of information, and successfully pushed 33,000 pieces of text messages. On August 1, 2016, the National Corporate Bankruptcy and Restructuring Case Information Online was officially opened, which becomes an online information platform for releasing various information about bankruptcy cases, and on which the legal process, notices of recruitment of administrators, notices of recruitment of investors, notices of asset auction and other relevant information are simultaneously published.
Promoting the openness of court trials. On December 11, 2013, the China Court Trial Live Broadcasting Website was opened. On September 27, 2016, on the basis of comprehensively upgrading the China Court Trial Live Broadcasting Website, the Supreme People’s Court officially opened the China Court Trial Online, thereby realizing the collection and authoritative release of videos of court trials conducted at the people’s courts at all levels. So far, 1,389 local courts have been connected with the China Court Trial Online. Through this website, the public can watch the court trials of cases that are conducted at the courts nationwide in real time, demand videos of court trials, access statistical information of court trials broadcast live, and store and share such videos and information through their Weibo and WeChat accounts, thereby realizing full coverage, real-time release and in-depth openness of court trial information. Since July 1, 2016, the Supreme People’s Court has provided online live broadcasting of the court trials of all the cases that can be made public according to law. Within less than half a year after the court trials were broadcast live on line, the live broadcasting of court trials conducted by the Supreme People's Court has attracted 96,000 viewers in real time and another 1.14 billion viewers not in real time. The people's courts at all levels have attached great importance to the openness of court trials of major cases, and broadcast live the courts trials of a lot of major cases drawing wide attention, such as the retrial of Archangelos Gabriel salvage case and the series case of administrative disputes over “Qiaodan” trademark. The people’s courts at all levels have broadcast live the court trials of 439,000 cases on line, attracting over 1.7 billion viewers. On January 7-8, 2016, the Haidian District People's Court in Beijing broadcast live the entire court trial of the case of "Qvodplay" suspected of seeking profits by spreading pornographic items, which lasted for more than 20 hours, attracted over 1 million viewers, and simultaneously posted 27 long Weibo messages reporting the entire court trial, which accumulatively received over 36 million views.
Promoting the openness of written judgments. In July 2013, the Supreme People's Court opened the China Judgments Online as the centralized platform for the openness of written judgments nationwide, and took the lead in publishing the judgments made by it on the website. Since January 1, 2014, all the effective judgments made by the people's courts at all levels have been published on the China Judgments Online. On November 15, 2015, the China Judgments Online underwent a revision by adding the functions such as one-click intelligent search, search of related documents and personalized services, and realized the openness of written judgments in five languages of minority nationalities, including Mongol, Tibetan, Uygur, Korean and Kazak, available for viewing and downloading. On August 30, 2016, the mobile client APP of the China Judgments Online was officially launched. Since August 2016, the China Judgments Online has received over 20 million page views every day. As of the end of 2016, the China Judgments Online has published over 25.72 judgments, received over 4.7 billion page views by users from more than 190 countries and regions in the world, and become the largest judgment publication website in the world. The Supreme People’s Court has newly prepared and amended 568 templates of instruments for civil lawsuits and 132 templates of instruments for administrative lawsuits, all of which are made available to the public free of charge, so as to improve the standardization of written judgments. On August 30, 2016, the Supreme People’s Court promulgated the amended Provisions on the Publication of Judgments by People's Courts on Line, listing all the types of judgments that should be made public, and requiring that all the judgments shall be published on line except those involving state secrets, crimes committed by persons under legal age, cases settled through mediation or in which mediation agreements are homologated, divorce actions or upbringing and guardianship of minor children; judgments involving personal privacy shall be published on line after redacting the contents involving personal privacy; the judgments of first instance that have been appealed or protested shall also be published on line and linked to the corresponding judgments of second instance; and with respect to the judgments not made public, to the extent not disclosing any state secrets, the case numbers, courts trying the cases, dates of judgment and reasons for non-disclosure shall be stated. The mode of publication of judgments has been changed from the traditional mode of centralized publication by special organs into the mode of one-click publication by the judges handling the cases on the case handling platform, and the mechanisms for handling the complaints lodged and comments made by the public and for public supervision of judgments have been established, so as to put the openness of written judgments under the supervision all social circles.
Promoting the openness of enforcement information. Since November 2014, the Supreme People's Court has begun to release the information of persons subject to enforcement, the list of dishonest persons subject to enforcement by the courts nationwide, information of enforcement process and the decisions on enforcement on the China Enforcement Information Online in a centralized manner. On September 14, 2016, the WeChat account of "China Enforcement" opened by the Supreme People’s Court was officially launched on line, which provides the functions of access to enforcement information, publication of enforcement regulations, interpretation of laws and regulations, publication of enforcement documents, etc., so that the public can access enforcement information and receive judicial services at any time. As of the end of 2016, the enforcement information release platform had made public 6.44 million dishonest persons subject to enforcement, released 40.65 million pieces of information about persons subject to enforcement, and received 29.16 million page views of information about enforcement cases. The courts in all regions have generally opened the enforcement information release websites that are connected with the China Enforcement Information Online and updated the information in real time.
Innovating on the form and content of judicial openness. The Supreme People's Court has published the Gazettes of the Supreme People's Court, Work Reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Annual Work Reports of the People's Court (in Chinese and English) on a regular basis, as well as the white papers on the situation of judicial protection of intellectual property rights in China, on the trial of maritime cases, on the trial of environmental and resource cases, on the trial of administrative cases, on the judicial reform and on the judicial openness, and released the judicial documents and information about major cases and the work of courts to people at home and abroad. The people's courts at all levels have been making efforts to improve judicial openness by means of court affairs websites, Court Weibo and WeChat, mobile news client APPs, court president's letterboxes, liaison platforms of members of people's congresses and people's political consultative conferences, themed open days and otherwise. On December 31, 2014, the governmental service website of the Supreme People's Court underwent a comprehensive revision and opened the litigation service website to facilitate consultations, inquiries, appointment for case filing, online examination of case files and contact with judges by the litigants, among other things. On December 15, 2015, the Supreme People’s Court opened its English website. Since 2013, the Supreme People's Court has opened its official accounts on the major domestic Weibo platforms including Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Renmin Weibo platforms, and press rooms for the courts nationwide on such Weibo accounts. As of the end of 2016, the three official Weibo accounts had over 33.12 million followers, posted 25,000 pieces of Weibo messages, and received 3.45 million repost and comments. The official WeChat account of the Supreme People's Court was opened in November 2013, and had posted 1,120 issues of image-text messages and had 414,000 subscribers as of the end of 2016. In December 2013, the Supreme People's Court joined Sohu's mobile client-end news platform, and thereafter launched its client APPs on the platforms of Sohu, People's Daily, Toutiao, Netease, Yidianzixun and Qiehao. As of the end of 2016, the six client APPs have released over 31,000 pieces of information of various types and had over 20.8 million subscribers. The "China Court on Mobile TV" APP of the Supreme People’s Court was officially launched on February 27, 2015, and had uploaded 4,886 videos on line, had 676,000 subscribers and recorded 3,616,700 hits in the highest as of the end of 2016. Since January 2015, the courts nationwide have adopted the monthly regular news conference system. From 2013 to 2016, the Supreme People's Court had held 86 news conferences, released 58 judicial documents and circulated 28 reports on work progress. From January 2015 to December 2016, 484 typical cases in total have been made public through briefings on typical cases.
VII. Promoting Judicial Democracy
To safeguard the people's right to participate in judicial work reflects that the socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics serves the people and is an objective need for promoting judicial democracy and improving the public credibility of the judiciary. The Supreme People's Court, through reformation of the system of people's assessors and otherwise, has improved the extensiveness, orderliness and effectiveness of the people's access to, participation in and supervision over the judicial work.
Carrying out the pilot program to reform the system of people's assessors. In May 2015, with the authorization of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice jointly promulgated the pilot program to reform the system of people's assessors and the measures for the implementation of the pilot program. The pilot program has been conducted at 50 courts in 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government. The items of the pilot program includes, among other things, reforming the requirements for the appointment of people's assessors, improving the mode of appointment of people's assessors, expanding the scope of participation in trials, defining the powers to participate in trials, enhancing job security, establishing the withdrawal mechanism, giving full play to the advantage of people's assessors in being familiar with the social situations and public opinions, and gradually realizing the goal that people's assessors no longer vote on issues relating to the application of law and only participate in the finding of facts. As of the end of April 2016, all the 50 pilot courts had finished the appointment of people's assessors, including 9,673 new people's assessors; these pilot courts had 13,322 people's assessors in total, 4.3 times of their judge quota; there were over 220,000 people’s assessors nationwide, reflecting a further enhancement of their extensiveness and representation. In 2016, the people’s assessors nationwide took part in the trial of 3,063,000 cases, including 458,700 criminal cases, 2,481,300 civil cases and 122,900 administrative cases. The people's assessors of the 50 pilot courts took part in the trial of 81,770 cases, including 1,624 cases involving mass interest or public interest or otherwise having a great social influence that were tried using the mechanism of collegiate panel and assessors. The Supreme People’s Court has developed the national people’s assessor information management system, which is connected with the respective people's assessor information management systems of the pilot courts, to realize information analysis, random selection and management of performance of the people's assessors. The Supreme People's Court has also conducted training courses for people’s assessors, published the Guide to the Performance of Duties by People's Assessors, and enhanced the trainings in the rights, obligations, litigation procedures, judicial etiquette and other relevant issues for people's assessors, to improve the capability of the people's assessors to perform their duties. The pilot courts in Heilongjiang and Shandong adopted the method of "directional classification, quota control and random selection", thereby effectively solving the problems arising from mechanically random selection of people's assessors, such as uneven distribution and unbalanced structure of and inconvenience in participation in trials by the people’s assessors selected. The pilot courts in Jiangsu have made efforts to realize balanced and effective participation in trials by people's assessors by setting the minimum and maximum times of participation in trials within a given period, adopting the system of participation in trials at different times and keeping the time records of people's assessors, promulgated the tentative opinions on participation in fact finding by the people’s assessors, and taken the measures such as pre-trial notification of fact finding, preparation of lists of facts, review by the collegiate panel section by section and summary of points at issue and main evidences by the judge before the collegiate panel, thereby forming clear and definite rules and guidelines on the participation in fact finding by the people's assessors. The courts in Tianjin, based on the information construction and through the people's assessor information system management platform, has entered all the information of people’s assessors, including their appointment, management, training, appraisal and participation in the trial of cases, into the information system, and realized dynamic management, balanced participation in trials, disclosure of information about performance of duties, regular appraisal of performance, and detailed data statistics in respect of people's assessors.
Establishing the communication platform with members of the people's congress and people's political consultative conference. On January 1, 2014, the Supreme People's Court established the communication platform with the members of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, enabling such members to contact the Supreme People's Court at any time.
Improving the system for submitting to the supervision of the parties involved in cases. In July 2014, the Supreme People's Court promulgated the regulations requiring the people's courts at all levels to voluntarily submit to the supervision of the parties involved in cases tried and enforced by them, strictly observed the anti-corruption rules, continuously improve the style of judicial work, and implement the systems of anti-corruption supervision card and return visit regarding anti-corruption issues. When serving the legal process on a party to a case, the department of the people's court handling the case shall also present an anti-corruption supervision card to the party. The supervisory departments of the people’s courts shall, in conjunction with the case handling departments, randomly select some cases concluded or enforced in a year, and pay return visits to the parties to such cases regarding anti-corruption issues, handle the complaints lodged by them and notify them of the results in a timely manner.