November 25, 2006
Call for papers: conference of the European Association for China Law Studies
Here is an edited version of an announcement I recently received:
The Second Conference of the European Association for China Law Studies is bringing together legal scholars from Europe and other countries around the world. This conference series will serve as a meeting point for the research and teaching of Chinese law, an informational exchange among those involved in organizing China law studies, and a forum for developing individual research projects.
Authors are invited to submit abstracts before January 15, 2007. The abstracts should be submitted as an email attachment sent to Dr. Knut Benjamin Pißler (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg/Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Professor Christiane Wendehorst (Sino German Institute for Legal Studies, University of Göttingen/Germany, email@example.com). The preferred format is MS Word.
The abstract should include:
- the title of the paper,
- full names of the author(s), their institutions, and email of the corresponding author,
- up to one page of text summarising the main contents of the proposed paper.
Authors will be informed of the paper’s acceptance before February 1, 2007. Camera-ready papers (not exceeding 10 pages) are due by July 1, 2007.
The full-length papers presented at the conference will be published.
For more information, click here.
November 24, 2006
China-Australia treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters
The Treaty Between Australia and the People's Republic of China on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was signed on April 3, 2006 (but has not yet been ratified by either side). Click here for the text in Chinese and English, as well as for the minutes of the negotiation.
Thanks to Aviva Gulley of the Australian Embassy, Beijing for the link.
November 23, 2006
China's low acquittal rate
In a speech earlier this month, Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang stated that in the 9-year period from 1997 through 2005, 41,038 criminal defendants had been found innocent, representing 0.66% of the number of persons on whom judgment had been pronounced. [Source] He is not reported to have commented on whether he thought this figure was too high, too low, or just right.
Without information on what kind of cases are brought to trial - information that only in-depth fieldwork would reveal - it's hard to know what to make of this number. It is theoretically possible that doubtful cases are never brought to trial, although recent well publicized cases of miscarriages of justice (for example, here and here) make that hypothesis a bit implausible. But just how implausible is impossible to say.
The acquittal rate in the United States is much higher: in federal courts, a recent study found that the average conviction rate in jury cases was 84%, while judges convicted slightly more than 50% of the time; a quick Google search finds estimates of the overall acquittal rate ranging from 17%
to about 25%. (I have not researched this extensively and would welcome better numbers.)
East Asian countries have much lower acquittal rates. Consider this report on South Korea:
Prosecutors normally indicted only when they accumulated what they considered overwhelming evidence of a suspect's guilt. The courts, historically, were predisposed to accept the allegations of fact in an indictment. This predisposition was reflected in both the low acquittal rate--less than 0.5 percent--in criminal cases and in the frequent verbatim repetition of the indictment as the judgment. The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" applied in practice much more to the pre-indictment investigation than to the actual trial.
The acquittal rate in Japan is less than 1 percent. [Source] (For a good study of the Japanese criminal prosecution system, see David Johnson, The Japanese Way of Justice: Prosecuting Crime in Japan (2002), reviewed here.)
Interestingly, Taiwan's acquittal rate is 12% [source] - lower than the US but still in the same ballpark, while conspicuously higher than that of Japan or South Korea, to whose criminal justice systems its own bears a much higher formal resemblance. Another source reports a somewhat lower rate:
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice, the proportion of those released without prosecution is about 20 percent yearly. The conviction rate of those that go to trial is more than 90 percent.
November 20, 2006
U.S.-China Legal Exchange and Roundtable
I have received the following announcement:
The U.S. Commercial Service at the Department of Commerce is sponsoring a U.S.-China Legal Exchange and Roundtable focusing on developments in China's draft Antimonopoly Law and Partnership Law. The Exchange features:
- Vice Minister Zhang Qiong, State Council Legal Affairs Office (SCLAO)
- Vice Minister Ma Xiuhong, Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
- John Sullivan, General Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce
- Other representatives of MOFCOM, SCLAO, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission
- Local legal experts
The Exchange will take place in the following cities on these dates:
- Seattle, WA - December 1
- Cleveland, OH - December 5
- Washington, DC - December 8
Registration forms and more information can be found here. Please note that registration is limited and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
November 19, 2006
Latest issue of China Law Reporter available
The November 2006 issue of the ABA Section on International Law's China Law Reporter is now available here. Here's a summary of the contents:
- Charles Booth, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii School of Law and Director of the Institute of Asian-Pacific Business Law at the University of Hawaii School of Law, contributes "The Race of Two Tortoises: Insolvency Law Reform in Hong Kong and China".
- Paul Jones, Principal of Jones & Co. in Toronto, writes "Understanding China's Franchise Law Regulations".
- Robin Gerofsky Kaptzan, a US lawyer resident in Shanghai, contributes "Company Supervision of FIEs by Shareholders and Employees: A Hurdle for Small and Medium Size Enterprises in Shanghai".
- The Jun He Law Offices provide "Summary of Laws from June 10, 2006 to July 10, 2006" and "List of Laws and Regulations from June 10, 2006 to July 10, 2006".
- Kara Philips, the Collection Development Librarian/Associate Director of Seattle University's Law Library, contributes "Items of Interest," a review of China-related books and articles.