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 , analogous to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its legislative plans. 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 10 July, the SPC’s General Office issued the document above. It sets out a list of 48 judicial interpretation projects for 2018 (with several for 2019) for which the SPC judicial committee’s 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 first time this type of document was publicly released (please contact me with corrections). If so, it is a concrete step in increasing the SPC’s transparency (addressed in part in one of my forthcoming academic articles). 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.
The document classifies the 48 projects into three categories:
- 2018 year-end deadline;
- 2019 half-year deadline;
- 2019 deadline.
This post will discuss the projects in the second and third categories, the ones with deadlines in 2019.
From these we can see which projects are the highest priority and where the SPC sees gaping regulatory holes need to be filled, reflecting its political-legal priorities. Often specific issues have already been on the agenda of the relevant division of the SPC for some time before they have been officially been approved by the SPC’s judicial committee.
As discussed in my previous blogpost, several of the interpretations listed for 2018 have already been issued. It is unclear which other drafts will be made public for comment, as the 2007 regulations do not require it to do so. Making this list known may put some pressure on the SPC to undertake more public consultation. Few if any interpretations in the area of criminal or criminal procedure law have been issued for public comment.
First half of 2019 deadline
- Standardizing the implementation of the death penalty (规范死刑执行). Apparently this will focus on more setting out more detailed guidelines concerning how the death penalty is implemented, linked to the Criminal Procedure Law and the SPC’s interpretations of the Criminal Procedure Law.
This article on a legal website sets out the steps in implementation and notes that parading of the persons to be executed is prohibited (although this rule seems to be ignored in too many localities). A recent scholarly article provides some detail (in Chinese). It is possible that 2008 regulations on suspension of the death penalty will be updated. Responsibility of the #1 Criminal Division. Given the sensitivity of issues related to the death penalty, it is significant that the SPC leadership decided to make this list public, given that this interpretation is on the list.
2. Judicial interpretation on harboring and assisting a criminal. These provisions occur in various parts of the Criminal Law and are also mentioned in the organized crime opinion discussed in this earlier blogpost. Drafting responsibility of the #4 Criminal Division.
3. Interpretation relating to the protection of heroes and martyrs. With the incorporation of the protection of heroes and martyrs in the Civil Code and the passage of the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law earlier this year, drafting of a related judicial interpretation was expected. Responsibility of the #1 Civil Division.
4.Interpretation on technical investigators in litigation. Responsibility of the #3 Civil Division) (IP Division). I look forward to Mark Cohen’s further comments on this.
5. Interpretation on the recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments. This blog flagged this development last year. Judge Shen Hongyu of the # 4 Civil Division, who wrote this article on issues related to the recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments, is likely involved in the drafting. Drafting responsibility of the #4 Civil Division.
6. Disputes over forestry rights, apparently an area with many disputes. The Environmental and Natural Resources Division is responsible for drafting.
7.Regulations on responsible persons of administrative authorities responding to law suits, relating to new requirements in the amended Administrative Litigation Law. and the 2018 judicial interpretation of the Administrative Litigation Law. The Administrative Division is in charge of drafting.
8.Regulations on the consolidated review of normative documents in administrative cases. The Administrative Division is in charge of drafting this.
9. Regulations on the consolidated hearing of administrative and civil disputes, apparently related to item #22 in the previous blogpost. Responsibility of the Administrative Division.
10. Application of the criminal law to cases involving the organization of cheating on state examinations (linked to Amendment #9 to the Criminal Law). The Research Office is responsible for drafting.
11. Application of the criminal law to crimes involving network use and aiding persons in such crimes (cyber crimes). This article discusses some of the issues. The Research Office is responsible for drafting this.
End 2019 deadline
- Jointly with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Interpretation on Certain Issues Related to the Application of Law in Criminal Cases of Dereliction of Duty (II), likely updating interpretation (I) in light of the anti-corruption campaign and the establishment of the National Supervision Commission.
- Interpretation on limiting commutation during the period of the suspension of death sentences. See related research in English and Chinese. The #5 Criminal Division is responsible for this.
- Interpretation on the trial of labor disputes (V), likely dealing with some of the most pressing labor law issues facing the courts that are not covered by the preceding four interpretations or relevant legislation. The #1 Civil Division is in charge of drafting.
- Regulations on maritime labor service contracts, likely connected with China’s accession to the 2006 Maritime Labor Convention and a large number of disputes in the maritime courts involving maritime labor service contracts. The #4 Civil Division is in charge of drafting.
- Regulations on the hearing of administrative cases, likely filling in the procedural gaps in the Administrative Litigation Law and its judicial interpretation. The Administrative Division is responsible for drafting this.
- Personal information rights disputes judicial interpretation, linked to the Civil Code being drafted. Implications for individuals and entities, domestic and foreign. Responsibility of the Research Office.
- Amending (i.e. updating) the 2001 Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Certain Issues Concerning Application of Urging and Supervision Procedure, relating to the enforcement of payment orders by creditors. Responsibility of the Research Office.