Advancing Judicial System Reform

Concrete measures in this regard are as follows. First, the collegial panel system should be improved by enhancing supervision among its members and bettering its internal management.

Second, the adjudication committee system should be accomplished by improving relevant rules, narrowing the scope of cases, letting more members of the adjudication committee become presiding judges over complicated and difficult cases, and publicizing the adjudication committee’s decisions and the reasons behind them.

Third is improving the judicial management system. The manner in which presiding court judges exercise their judicial management rights must be reasonably demarcated to form an operating mechanism with adjudicative power at the core.

Fourth is phasing out the system whereby lower-level courts must request trial instructions from higher-level courts. The latter will exercise their supervisory power over the former only through second instance trials and retrials.

Fifth is improving the court evaluation system to ensure that every staff member pursues fairness and efficiency in their work.

Resolution of Lawsuit-Related Public Petitions by Lawful Means

Reform of the handling of lawsuit-related petitions is one of the four major reforms set down by the central authorities, and also an important objective of the decision of the third plenary session.

On March 19, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council promulgated new rules on handling lawsuit-related petitions by lawful means. The main thrust of these rules is that lawsuit-related petitions must be terminated according to law. After going through legal procedures, therefore, petitions will be terminated in conformity with the final judgment made according to law.

As regards petitioners who are not satisfied and persist in their complaints, the reexamination procedure will not be launched if the judicial departments at central or provincial level deem that the problem has been properly handled. The rules thus guarantee that all lawsuit-related petitions can be settled by lawful means, so safeguarding the authority of judicial judgment.

Meanwhile, these rules also stipulate that efforts should be made to improve the responsibility system. Judicial personnel should take lifelong responsibility for their every case. There are also higher requirements of judicial departments as regards their quality and efficiency when handling lawsuit-related petitions. The Commission of Politics and Law of the CPC Central Committee issued three documents on solving the foremost problems these reforms entail with respect to lawsuit-related petitions. They include the high case-filing threshold, different departments trying to avoid and shift responsibility, and the absence of recourse in cases of erroneous judgment. All the above mentioned efforts demonstrate the resolution to promote reforms on the handling of petitions through lawful means.


Comprehensively Promote the Rule of Law

The third plenary session having deepened reform of the judicial system, the fourth plenary session took these reforms even further.

The fourth plenary session pointed out that fairness is the lifeline of the rule of law. Judicial fairness plays a crucial role in promoting social justice, just as judicial unfairness inflicts upon it fatal harm. Therefore, efforts must be made to improve management of the judicial system and jurisdiction operating mechanism, standardize judicial behavior, and enhance supervision of judicial activity. The people may then be assured of justice and fairness in every case.

More efforts are needed in the following aspects: setting up a system where adjudicative power and procuratorial power can be exercised independently and impartially according to law; operating a system that records and reports details, and traces accountability should administrative cadres interfere with judicial acts; setting up a protection system to guarantee that judicial personnel can perform their duties; optimizing the allocation of judicial functions and power and promoting on a trial basis the separation of adjudicative power from executive power; exploring the possibility of setting up trans-regional courts and procuratorates for complicated cases; setting up a system where procuratorial organs can raise public-interest litigation; ensuring a strict judicial procedure by relying on facts and law; promoting reform of the litigation system; establishing a system where responsibility can be traced if any flaws in a case are discovered; ensuring the participation of ordinary citizens in judicial acts through links such as judicial mediation, hearings, the handling of lawsuit-related petitions, and improvements to the people’s jurors system that build an open, dynamic, transparent, and people-oriental judicial system; enhancing the judicial protection of human rights; strengthening supervision of judicial activity and ensuring procuratorial organs exercise their supervisory power; and intensifying legal supervision of criminal cases, civil cases, and administrative litigation. This will improve the system by enabling the people to better serve as supervisors and so prevent any leniency beyond the law on the basis of relationships or money.

We believe that upgrading the rule of law in China and deepening judicial system reform will help to accomplish the supreme status of the Constitution and law. The rule of law has been foremost in promoting reform and has achieved fair and efficient operation of the judicial system, so ensuring that people enjoy justice and fairness in every legal case.


ZHANG XINBAO is a professor at the Law School of Renmin University of China and editor-in-chief of China Legal Science.

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