The rush towards year end in the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), as in the business world, means a flurry of announcements of important developments, to ensure that the SPC meets its own performance targets. Among the recent announcements are:
- reform of the maritime courts, to make them internationally influential (this has both political and legal implications, blogpost to come);
- approval by central Party authorities of the third round of judicial reform pilots, and the holding of a large scale meeting of representatives from the Leading Group on Judicial Reform with the SPC and Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), on the focus (personnel reforms) and roll out of these projects. Jiang Wei,deputy director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Judicial Reform, spoke along with his SPC and SPP counterparts. Political legal committee secretaries from the pilot areas attended, along with court and procuratorate officials.
- Reform of the family court system, announced at a conference held in Guangzhou, attended by Justice Du Wanhua, highlighting that the rush of judges to meet performance targets (closing cases) Iamong other factors) has had a negative effect on children, elderly, disabled, and women. The SPC likely published typical/model family law cases in November (discussed in this blogpost) because pulling together those cases was part of the preparations for the Guangzhou conference;
- progress report and further plans on improving judicial assistance (separate but related to legal assistance), with the release of the2014 multi-agency document (Central Political Legal Committee, SPC, SPP, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Justice), stating that the central government had allocated 700 million RMB for judicial assistance and local governments 1.7 billion RMB, targeted at financial assistance for victims of crimes and others, with funds allocated to about 80,000 in 2014, (certainly a fraction of what is needed)
- long pronouncement by Justice Shen Deyong on the “standardization” of the courts, citing the important status and important role of the judiciary in the governance of the country, but the growing contradiction between the needs of the people and judicial resources and judicial capacity, decrying the lack of “top level design,” and calling for the implementation of related reforms.
This list will be supplemented later this month, as further announcements are made.