Posts in this blog focus on specific aspects of what the Supreme People’s Court, China’s highest court, does, and illuminate new developments. Chinese law gives it a special role, which has become more important over the past 20+ years as the number of disputes heard (and sought to be heard) in the courts has skyrocketed. This increase is linked to major changes in China’s economy and society. A significant proportion of what the Supreme People’s Court does is linked with the failure of Chinese legislation to keep pace with economic and social changes, but with which the lower courts must cope when hearing criminal, civil, and administrative cases.
Like all Chinese legal institutions, Communist Party policy guides what it does. Some posts on this blog look at how the relationship between the Supreme People’s Court and the Communist Party operates, such as these:
- one (on the 4th Plenum Decision)
- two (on Xi Jinping’s written instructions),
- three (on Political Legal Committees),
- four (on judicial corruption).
Some of the functions of the Supreme People’s Court are shared by supreme courts of other jurisdictions, such as issuing court rules. Others are unique to China.
Among the Supreme People’s Court’s functions are:
- approving death sentences (see these posts);
- hearing and deciding cases heard on appeal or through other procedures, either in Beijing or the circuit courts;
- issuing judicial interpretations of law, including court rules;
- issuing judicial policy documents on issues that cross a variety of institutional boundaries;
- approving certain arbitration related matters;
- guiding and administering the lower courts in a variety of ways.