SPC reports on progress of China’s case registration and filing system
II. Various measures on ensuring the implementation of case registration and filing system reform
In recent years, the growing number of lawsuits has increased the work of people’s courts and creating a staff shortage. In 2014, people’s courts at all levels handled 15.7 million cases, and concluded and enforced about 13.8 million cases, up 10.1 percent and 6.6 percent from a year earlier. The work of the people’s courts at all levels to complete these tasks was indeed arduous. However, SPC President Zhou Qiang points out that the principle inherent in modern justice is that courts should not reject petitions and judges should not refuse judgment. He also says that pressures and difficulties in the work should not be excuses for affecting and limiting the litigants’ rights to appeal.
The SPC has adopted a number of measures to ensure the implementation of case registration and filing system reform.
a. Solving difficulties in a reformative manner. The SPC promotes the reform of judicial power while requiring that judges’ orders should be respected, and guarantees that the judges and collegial panels’ handling of cases will be in accordance with the law. Leaders of courts and tribunals will be required to work in the front line of cases, hearing major difficult and complex cases and playing a leading role in helping judges to handle cases more efficiently.
b. Actively promoting the principle of “dividing the complicated from the simple” in legal proceedings, and varying the means of dispute resolution. Courts in China will be required to make the most of small claim and summary procedures, and to conclude the majority of cases briefly and quickly, with only a minority of cases being heard meticulously with full legal procedure, so as to improve efficiency and ease the judges’ workload. They will be encouraged to take full advantage of diversified dispute settlement mechanisms and lead most people to choose non-lawsuit channels for dispute resolution. The courts will also try to settle simple civil disputes without a lawsuit with the help of people from all walks of life.
c. Further deepening of judicial openness and strengthening the management of trials. The SPC urged the courts in China to further widen the channel of judicial openness and enrich its content by accepting input from all walks of life, which would force judges to improve their sense of quality and responsibility in judicial criteria and scale, as well as enhance the quality and efficiency of trials. It called for full utilization of information technology and handling of cases online to strengthen control of time limits for concluding trials, accelerate case flow and improve efficiency; it also encouraged a thoughtful intelligent approach in routine trials to ease the workload. Refusing to hear cases, forcing the litigants to withdraw lawsuits, or coming to fake conclusions of cases is prohibited resolutely.
d. Focusing on strengthening the supervision of case filing and enhancing the accountability system. To prevent any violation of the principle “all cases should be accepted and all litigation should be handled”, the SPC, when it drafted the Opinions on Promoting the Reform of Case Registration and Filing System of People’s Courts and the Regulations on Some Issues Concerning Case Registration and Filing System of People’s Courts, emphasized internal court supervision of the case filing and accountability system as an institutional improvement.
If any violation in failing to file a case, or in delay, artificial interference in case filing, refusing to file a case at year end, or disturbance in case filing were found, the officials in charge should be held accountable according to law.
If any serious consequences or any grave social impact from such behavior should lead to a crime, the parties involved should be investigated for criminal liability according to law. The courts should accept the supervision of the National People's Congress, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference , and procuratorial organs.
People's courts should in a timely manner take measures to rectify the problems and absorb opinions raised by people's congresses and their standing committees at all levels during their supervisions of the courts’ case registration and filing system. The courts should accept the social supervision consciously and promote case filing openness and transparency.
As part of the implementation of the case registration and filing system, the SPC has assigned specialists to monitor online public opinion to discover any violation, and has required the high courts to verify the violation and report the result within a scheduled time.