--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Tianjin Court Issues China's First Legal Precedents

The Higher People's Court of Tianjin has issued three cases to which lower courts can refer in making judgments, the first time a Chinese higher court has issued set legal precedents.

All the three cases were civil disputes, including the case of a bank that sued a wool spinning factory that defaulted on loans totaling four million yuan (US$482,000).

Law experts held that legal precedents could offer remedies to relative imprecision and vagueness of civil laws under which judges are usually allowed more freedom in their decisions.

"It's a judicial practice of vital importance," said Chen Yaodong, director of the society of economic laws under the China Law Society. "It will have a very positive impact by raising the levels of lower courts in administering justice and maintaining consistency between legislation and enforcement."

Legal precedents are not endorsed as part of legislation in China, but on some occasions "typical" cases that have been settled are referred to in making judgments. The Supreme People's Court released typical cases it collected and thought instructive on a quarterly basis to instruct lower courts, and the Law Research Institute under the Supreme People's Court published Selected Cases Settled by People's Courts.

Law specialists agreed that the practice of legal precedents could help to protect the integration of the law and guarantee impartiality and efficiency in administering justice.

Moreover, legal precedents could promote supervision of law enforcement as law experts, lawyers and the public were able to consult specific cases as well as established legislation.

The Higher People's Court of Tianjin Municipality took nine months to select sample cases to be issued as precedents. Tian Haowei, presiding judge of the No. 2 Civil Court under the higher court, said the legal precedents were chosen and selected through discussion by experienced senior judges and verified by the judicial committee of the higher court.

Zhang Baifeng, president of the Higher People's Court of Tianjin Municipality, said that precedents were the most illustrative and telling explanation of the law, and could help people understand the law. They would also help prevent different laws being applied to similar cases or contradictory verdicts on similar cases despite the application of the same law by inexperienced or incapable judges.

China's lower courts had numerous examples of similar disputes receiving contradictory judgments due to the increasing number of cases and the differing opinions of judges.

The precedents issued by the Higher People's Court of Tianjin Municipality are for consultations, and were not compulsorily binding for judges. But Tian, the presiding judge, said that lower courts should give reasons for not following precedents in trying similar cases. If no convincing reasons were provided to justify verdicts against the principle of legal precedent, the verdicts were likely to be amended, Tian added.

The higher court would issue more typical cases to instruct judges in civil law cases in lower courts, according to Tian.

Law experts said the practice of legal precedents would not affect the principle of the independence of Chinese courts at all levels in accordance with the law.

(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2003)

Circuit Courts' Role Advanced
Courts to Guarantee Fair Trials
Experts Witness Judicial Reform
Rule of Law Progresses Steadily in China
Top Lawmaker on Judicial Reform
Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688