Implementing the judicial reforms in China requires an overhaul of China’s current basic legislation, the Judges Law (法官法）and the Organizational Law of the People’s Courts (人民法院组织法). The Supreme People’s Court (the Court) media outlets have recently reported that on 23 October the first meeting was held of the drafting group to amend the Judges Law, with Court Vice President Shen Deyong chairing the meeting, and senior Court judges in attendance. The report notes that the focus is on securing the independence of the courts (but having them remain firmly under Party control). Judge Shen mentioned that issues under consideration include: criteria for the selection of judges; protection for judges undertaking their duties; evaluation of judges, judicial assistants, salary scales, retirement and insurance, and rewards and punishments.
Part of the preparatory work for amending the Judges Law is to include field research and surveys, particularly of front-line judges in the judicial reform pilot areas. The drafting group will designate some local courts and some universities/research institutes to assist with the drafting. The drafting of the Judges Law will need to be consistent with the principles of the amendment of the Organizational Law of the People’s Courts and the work of the Central Leading Group on Judicial Reform. This summer, the Court convened an initial meeting to discuss amending the Organizational Law of the People’s Courts. How to reorganize the Chinese judiciary and what professional status Chinese judges should have and work under will affect how judicial reforms are implemented and less directly, more fundamental issues concerning China’s economy and society.