As discussed in two blogposts in 2018, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has a yearly plan for drafting judicial interpretations, as set out in its 2007 regulations on judicial interpretation work. The plan is analogous to the legislative plans of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee. Judicial interpretations, for those new to this blog, are binding on the SPC itself and the lower courts, and fill in some of the interstices of Chinese law (further explained here). On 29 April 2019, the SPC’s General Office issued a document setting out a list of 47 judicial interpretation projects, 36 with an end of 2019 deadline (see the previous blogpost), and 11 with a deadline set for the first half of 2020 (set out below). The list details the projects for which the SPC judicial committee had given project initiation/approval (立项), designating one or more SPC divisions/offices with primary drafting responsibility (this process to be detailed in a forthcoming article). It appears to be the second time this type of document was publicly released. If so, it is a concrete step in increasing the SPC’s transparency. The projects, deadlines, and some brief comments (some longer than others) follow below
(“Project initiation”/”project approval” is a procedure well-known to those of us who have been involved in foreign investment projects in China, where it involves approval from the planning authorities, primarily for infrastructure projects, but is an initial procedure used by regulatory authorities of all types, Party and state. For the SPC, it reflects one of the “planned economy” aspects of the way it operates.
Deadline of the first half of 2020:
- Provisions on Issues Concerning the Electronic Service of Legal Instruments (关于电子送达法律文书若干问题的规定). Responsibility of the Case Filing Division. This has been flagged for some years.
- Amending the 2013 joint SPC and Supreme People’s Procuratorate Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Food Safety (关于修改《关于办理危害食品安全刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》的决定). Responsibility of the #1 Criminal Division.
- Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Application of Laws in Handling Criminal Cases Involving the Administration of Tax Collection (关于办理危害税收征管刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释). Responsibility of the #4 Criminal Division.
- Interpretation Concerning the Application of Law in Cases of Disputes over the Infringement of Trade Secrets (关于审理侵犯商业秘密纠纷案件应用法律若干问题的解释). Responsibility of the #3 Civil Division. This judicial interpretation is flagged in the recently issued (November, 2019) Party/State Council document on improving intellectual property rights protection (Explore and strengthen effective protection of trade secrets, confidential business information and its source code etc. Strengthen criminal justice protection and promote the revision and the amendment and improvement of criminal law and judicial interpretations 探索加强对商业秘密、保密商务信息及其源代码等的有效保护。加强刑事司法保护，推进刑事法律和司法解释的修订完善). (“Brother” blogger Mark Cohen’s comments on the document found here.)Given the worldwide attention to this issue, I would expect that a draft will be issued for public comment.
- Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning Punitive Damages for Intellectual Property Infringement (关于知识产权侵权惩罚性赔偿适用法律若干问题的解释). Responsibility of the #3 Civil Division. Although recent publicity by the Chinese government has linked implementing punitive damages to the recent Party/State Council document on protecting intellectual property rights and the draft implementing regulations for the Foreign Investment Law, the 2018 Party/State Council document on improving intellectual property litigation had already mentioned this. Given the worldwide attention to this issue, I would expect that a draft will be issued for public comment.
- Provisions on Issues Concerning the Application of the Foreign Investment Law of the People’s Republic of China (I) (关于适用《中华人民共和国外商投资法》若干问题的规定（一)). Responsibility of the #4 Civil Division. Given the worldwide attention to this issue, I hope that a draft will be issued for public comment.
- Provisions on Several Issues Relating to Open Court Sessions of the People’s Courts on the Internet (关于人民法院互联网公开庭审过程若干问题的规定). Responsibility of the Trial Administration Office. I have an unpublished article on issues involved with the streaming of court hearings, prepared for an academic conference at which I gave a presentation three years ago. The paper (drawing on research within the court system) raises problems I have not seen mentioned by anyone writing in English.
- Interpretation Regarding the Application of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (关于适用《中华人民共和国刑事诉讼法》的解释). Responsibility of the Research Office. I have a forthcoming academic article on the procedure underlying the drafting of this judicial interpretation, derived from a conference presentation I made almost two years ago. The article was finalized early this year. I’m hoping it will be published next year. I trust it won’t be out of date…
- Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Realization of Security Interests (.关于担保物权实现程序若干问题的解释). Responsibility of the Research Office. A practical issue for financial institutions, lawyers, and others.
- Issues in the Handling of Judicial Technology Cases (关于办理司法技术案件若干问题的规定). Joint Responsibility of the Research Office, Trial Administration Office, and Judicial Equipment Administration Bureau.
- Issues Concerning the Forensic Identification and Evaluation of the People’s Courts (关于人民法院司法鉴定若干问题的规定). Joint Responsibility of the Research Office, Trial Administration Office, and Judicial Equipment Administration Bureau.
I’d welcome comments by persons with further information about any of the above draft judicial interpretations.