Courts accepting more cases after clearance quota removal

Updated: 2015-12-03 11:07


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BEIJING - Courts pursuing official targets for annual case closures were always disinclined to accept cases they had little chance of processing in the home stretch of each year. With the targets abolished and courts instead encouraged to pursue justice for justice's sake, the situation has changed.

The People's Court in Weng'an County, Guizhou Province, accepted 676 cases from Oct. 21 to Nov. 21, increasing from 311 in the same period last year.

Annual case clearance rates used to be very important in courts' annual assessments. However, in a January move designed to eliminate "unreasonable assessment criteria," Chinese legal authorities committed to stop judging courts on prosecution and conviction quotas. In May, the country also streamlined the process for filing lawsuits and required courts to accept legitimate suits whenever they are filed.

"Courts must accept cases that should be handled according to the law, and no unit or individual may obstruct them for any reason," stipulated the Supreme People's Court (SPC,) China's top court.

The moves, which are now bearing fruit, were designed to better protect people's legitimate litigation rights.

Anticipating a surge in case filing, the People's Court in Yuepuhu County of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region promised to finish filing cases within 30 minutes, if the necessary paperwork is provided.

Courts nationwide had registered over 6.2 million cases by Sept. 30, an increase of 31.9 percent compared with the same period last year.

SPC spokesperson Sun Jungong said in November that the new case filing system has made Chinese people "feel" the progress made in the country's judicial system reform.

Though more cases have heaped pressure on judges and aggravated the lingering problem of inadequate judicial resources, the SPC has said it will come down hard on courts that turn down cases without good reason.

"Despite all the challenges, such as a lack of judicial professionals,the public's litigation rights should not be hampered under any circumstances," said Sun.

One way courts can help themselves is to establish online platforms for case filing and generally make themselves more efficient, as the SPC is urging them.

More than 450 case applications have been lodged via an online platform created by the People's Court in Shuimogou District of Urumqi, Xinjiang, in June. It has filed nearly 200 of them that met basic requirements.

According to Zhang Jie, head of the case filing chamber with the court, the Internet service is available to the public 24 hours a day and allows lawyers to submit materials and pay legal fees online.