Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

China's courts and procuratorates to come under central leadership?

There's a general consensus among Chinese and foreign scholars of Chinese law that whatever advantages the current system of local leadership over courts and procuratorates may have, they are far outweighed by the disadvantages. Local political leadership controls personnel and finances of courts and procuratorates at the same administrative level, and this naturally makes courts and procuratorates tend to listen to local political leaders, even when their wishes go against what the law might require.

Proposals to centralize control over court personnel and finances have been around for what seems like decades now, but have never gotten anywhere. The principle of local control is quite strong in China, and as courts and procuratorates are viewed by local governments as just another bureaucracy, one can understand why they would not feel there was anything special about them justifying a special governance and accountability structure. Moreover, any centralization would require amendment not only of the Court Organization Law, but of the Constitution itself: Article 101 provides that local people's congresses at the county level and above have the power of appointment and dismissal over chief judges and chief procurators at the same level, although interestingly appointment and dismissal of a chief procurator requires the approval of the higher-level procuratorate and people's congress standing committee.

In any case, the Duowei news service (not always reliable) reports yet another initiative to centralize the power of personnel appointment and finances over courts. Whether this time it will go anywhere is anyone's guess.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/china_law_prof_blog/2013/10/chinas-courts-and-procuratorates-to-come-under-central-leadership.html

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