China will establish a modern trial system for handling civil cases relating to economic affairs, intellectual property and maritime disputes, to conform to international civil and commercial court practices, chief justice Tang Dehua said in Beijing Friday.
"The new system is to better facilitate China's accession to the World Trade Organization," said Tang, Vice-President of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), at a national meeting.
Nearly 200 court presidents, senior judges and scholars from the SPC met in Beijing to discuss the reform of the civil trial system.
"With China's entry to WTO, the coming of the Internet age and China's increased interaction with the world, the country is to face a tremendous amount of new legal issues," Tang said.
"The development of the market economy based on equal, open and more fierce competition will give rise to more complicated civil disputes and conflicts, which will inevitably call for modernizing the country' civil trial system," he said.
Tang said the new system will place more emphasis on the rule of law, replacing influences from non-judicial powers, and pay more attention to the protection of rights and interests of litigants, court procedures and efficiency of court proceedings.
In the new system, according to Tang, open trials shall be fully implemented, rules on evidence presentation and debate shall be made, judges and collegiate benches with jurors shall be held fully responsible for their judgment, court presidents and powerful judicial committees shall be relieved from daily routines and common cases to focus on major issues, civil trial judges shall be selected from lower level; and the supervision system for court proceedings shall be improved.
In dealing with foreign litigants, all parties concerned should be treated as equals, and both the national interests and authority of the law shall be heeded, he said.
According to the SPC, until now the civil courts in China have been handling economic, intellectual property and maritime cases as well as cases involving marriage, family and other aspects of daily life.
In past 10 years, Chinese civil courts have conducted hearings for 37 million cases, of which 25,100 relate to foreign parties and to parties from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, SPC statistics show.
The total number of cases relating to foreign and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents in 1999 is 3.15 times more than that in 1990.