Tuesday, October 31, 2006
In a recent speech, Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang (肖扬) reported that despite a year of concentrated effort, the problem of unexecuted judgments remained basically unresolved, with over 800,000 unexecuted judgments still out there. This seems like a big number, but it's always hard to know quite what to make of these statistics. First, they include, for example, judgments not executed because the defendant is broke - disappointing for the plaintiff, to be sure, but not an indication of anything wrong with the court system (unless the defendant has illicitly transferred funds to a connected party that the court is unable or unwilling to find or enforce against). Second, China is a big country with a lot of people; even minor phenomena can look huge when you have a multiplier like that. Finally, we don't have a good way of knowing what a good rate of execution would be, and therefore what the right number is. We don't even have good information on execution rates in other countries (I tried to find this out several years ago in connection with an article I was writing on enforcement of judgments in China - short version available here).
The news report on Xiao Yang's speech is available, with relevant links, here.