Similar Judgments for Similar Cases
No, China does not move towards case law, but keeps the tradition of statutory law while constantly innovating and exploring. The Similar Cases can be regarded as application tutorials with examples for statutory law.
China's Supreme Court's Guiding Opinions in June 2020 has set out the circumstances in which Chinese judges should retrieve the Similar Case.
China's Guiding Cases are different from case law, and in essence, belong to statutory law.
Guiding Case System and Similar Case Retrieval System are established to unify the application of law and restrict the discretion of judges.
For Chinese judges, discovering similar cases is an unfamiliar and challenging task. However, the Guiding Case System(指导性案例制度) and the Similar Case Retrieving System(类案检索制度) established respectively in 2010 and 2020 have required them to face up to this task.
China's Supreme Court issued the Implementing Rules of the Provisions on Case Guidance (《关于案例指导工作的规定》实施细则) in May 2015, which clarified the details of how the Guiding Case System works.
Where do China's Guiding Cases (指导性案例) come from? Provisions on Case Guidance were issued by the SPC in 2010 as a first step towards establishing the Guiding Case system.
China's Supreme Court released its first batch of special research results on "Similar Case Retrieval and Adjudication Rules of Chinese Courts" On 27th Nov. 2019.
The Adjudication Committee Series explains how China's Supreme court has reformed this institution step by step.