This short blogpost is just to bring to the attention to the world outside of China that the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has substantially upgraded its case database, enabling users to search by keyword, cause of action, party, court, lawyer, law firm, full text (or facts, headnotes). The database can be accessed here. The SPC has required higher, intermediate courts and some basic level courts to upload their judgments on its database (with certain exceptions). The military courts are an exception, although senior military legal academics are advocating greater transparency for the military courts.
Basic level courts in the more developed coastal regions have gone first, with other areas following as they have the technical ability to do so. The higher people’s courts issue their own implementing regulations to guide their local courts (see regulations mentioned by an Inner Mongolian court). Local courts issue their own guidance in implementing the SPC system, such as this guidance from an Inner Mongolian county court, where the court leadership (court president/Party secretary and the other Party group members (the leaders of divisions of the court) is leading the implementation.
Although judgments in sensitive cases are often not uploaded, for the vast majority of cases (that do not fall into that category), the SPC database remains a rich source of understanding how the Chinese court system is operating, through (for example) a focused search of a specific type of case, from rape to breach of contract to challenge of public security penalties, to enforcement of arbitral awards.