Tag Archives: draft judicial interpretations

Supreme People’s Court Solicits Comments on Court Online Procedures

On 21 January, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued  for public comment regulations on online hearings, applicable to civil (commercial), administrative and enforcement cases, and certain criminal cases, entitled Regulations on Some Issues Related to People’s Courts Handling Cases Online (English translation available at Chinatranslate.com) 关于人民法院在线办理案件若干问题的规定(征求意见稿). This topic is likely to be of interest to foreign and foreign-invested users of the Chinese court system (although they are a tiny minority of users). Judging by the number of articles in the English-language professional media on China’s internet and online courts, the draft may also attract comments from interested professionals outside of China. One issue I would hope is clarified is whether they apply to cross-border cases (cases involving jurisdictions outside of (mainland) China, as my quick reading is that the draft is unclear.  (Corrections welcome!) .

It is likely that the SPC’s Judicial Reform Office took primary responsibility for drafting the regulations because the email and physical mail address for comments is directed to that office.  The deadline for comments is 5 February.  I surmise the 16 day comment period  is linked to the upcoming Chinese new year’s (spring festival) holiday, rather than disinterest in receiving comments from foreign, foreign-invested, or foreign-related institutions or individuals.  In the experience I have had personally or been aware of through other foreign institutions involved in commenting on draft interpretations, SPC judges have taken comments from foreign Chambers of Commerce in China, foreign-invested companies, and foreign professional bodies seriously. Some of the foreign Chambers of Commerce, for example, have legal committees, but it would take some time for them to organize a translation of the draft and assemble comments from committee members.

The SPC regulations on judicial interpretation work do not specify a minimum (or maximum) time period for soliciting opinions from the public.  Reviewing the comment periods for some of the other judicial interpretations and other judicial documents for which comments were solicited in 2020, the deadlines appear to vary significantly.  I surmise that the deadline is set by the team in charge of drafting the judicial interpretation (or other judicial document). In November, the SPC solicited public comments on proposed amendments to its judicial interpretations related to the taking of security for 18 days, while comment periods for other judicial interpretations and judicial documents seem to be often one month and sometimes two months

Where comments were solicited on judicial interpretations and other judicial documents in the area of intellectual property law, the general public, including the foreign public, seems to be given more time to make comments.  That may reflect the international nature of intellectual property law and long-term interactions between intellectual property specialists at the SPC and foreign intellectual property judges and other foreign experts knowledgeable about China’s intellectual property system. As Mark Cohen commented when the SPC’s Intellectual Property Court was established: [a specialist intellectual property appellate court] “has been a focus of much discussion between US and Chinese experts over 20 or more years, notably between the SPC and former CAFC [Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit] Chief Judge Rader, former USPTO [United States Patent and Trademark Office] Director Kappos and others (including the author/owner of this blog {Mark Cohen]).”

I surmise that the persons soliciting comments would accept comments submitted after the formal deadline. That has been my own experience, but  in relation to another area of law.  To be safe, those planning to submit comments after the deadline are advised to contact the persons whose emails are listed in the notice, to ensure that their comments will in fact be read and considered.