Liu Jun, King & Wood’s Guangzhou Office,Domestic Dispute Resolution Practice
On March 30, 2008, a notice was issued by the Supreme People’s Court adjusting the standards for jurisdiction of the high people’s courts and the intermediate people’s courts.The adjustment will reduce dramatically the number of first instance cases tried by the high people’s courts and the Supreme People’s Court, however, it will lead to a huge burden on the basic people’s courts and accordingly the intermediate people’s courts will also see their caseloads increase for cases of second instance. In other words, after the implementation of the new standard, most civil and commercial cases of first and second instance will be charged to the basic and the intermediate people’s courts.The new standard came into force from April 1, 2008…
The most direct and fundamental reason for initiating this change was the implementation of the new Civil Procedure Law which had amended relevant procedures for retrialing a case. According to the previous Civil Procedure Law, the parties to a case were entitled to apply for a retrial in either the original court or the court at the next higher level. Nonetheless, it is stipulated in article 178 of the new Civil Procedure Law that, "If a party considers that a legally effective judgment or ruling has some errors, he may petition the people’s court only at the next higher level for retrial." That means there will be a large amount of retrial petitions flooding into the higher level courts. The new standard may reduce the amount of first instance cases being filed to the higher people’s courts and the Supreme People’s Court, which reduces the workload of the courts and enhances the trial supervision abilities of the higher courts. The new standard came into force on the same day as the new Civil Procedure Law and will have a positive influence on the implementation of the new Civil Procedure Law. Ideally, it will improve the functionality of the judical system.
However, some issues still remain. For the time being, many local judges are already over burdened. Yet, the new standard will cause a dramatic increase of work load in the basic people’s courts. The amount of cases will increase, the legal issues will be more complex and the trials will be more difficult.
Therefore, the quality of judgments is still expected to be an issue.. As such, further regulation is still expected regarding the standard of judges and the construction of the court system to further improve the situation.