The Ministry of Justice will push reforms in China's public notary system this year, said the newly appointed justice minister Zhang Fusen Thursday.
The public notary system is the system under which documents and statements are made official and legally binding.
"Reforming the public notary system is a vital part of China's judicial reform,'' said Zhang.
The reforms started some six years ago, but really picked up momentum last year. Ten notary offices across the nation are now implementing pilot schemes.
The offices will shift from their current state-owned status to be run by partnerships and co-operatives, and improvements will be made in the quality of the service.
The reforms are regarded as another significant change in China's judicial system after the legal profession was looked at in the mid-1990s.
Zhang said that in the new year, efforts would be made to set up a public notary system that was more compatible with the market economy, and to build a contingent of highly qualified personnel.
Statistics from the Ministry of Justice indicate that China now has more than 3,000 public notary offices with more than 18,000 staff. The system was undermined along with the legal profession during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), and was restored in 1979.
"Reform is necessary if the public notary system is to develop in China in the next five years," said Zhang.
(China Daily 01/19/2001)