Top court calls for more specialized bodies to hear environmental litigation

Updated: 2016-06-02 15:39

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Top court calls for more specialized bodies to hear environmental litigation


Chinese courts are being encouraged to develop more tribunals, collegial benches and circuit courts to handle environmental litigation, officials of China’s top court said on Thursday.

So far, 182 tribunals, 359 collegial benches and nine circuit courts have been established to handle environmental disputes in the courts of 27 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions across the country, said Wang Xuguang, deputy chief judge of the environmental tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

Of these, 12 tribunals are in high people’s courts, with a new one being planned in Yunnan Provincial High People’s Court.

“Establishing these bodies ensures the quality of environmental case hearings and builds up professionalism among judicial teams hearing such litigation,” Wang said.

Meanwhile, grassroots and intermediate courts are also being encouraged to set up environmental collegial benches.

“It’s good to see 44 intermediate people’s courts and 124 grassroots ones have their own collegial panels to hear environmental cases,” said Wang, adding that he hoped professional hearings could be extended to more courts in future.

Since January last year, when the revised environmental protection law came into effect, 23,140 criminal cases, 93,367 civil cases and 31,916 administrative cases related to the environment have been concluded, according to a statistic from the top court.

As legal teams improve the way they deal with such litigation, Jiang Bixin, vice president of the top court, said that it was also important to hold polluters accountable.

“Polluters should be liable to pay compensation for the damage they cause to the environment, but also take responsibility for environmental restoration,” Jiang said. “I think it is reasonable to make a blacklist to punish polluters, and victims can be given a compensation if needed.”