Edited by Song Miou, Xinhua News
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) on April 15 streamlined procedure on accepting and hearing cases, another step toward an authoritative judicial system in China.
The rules, to take effect on May 1, state that any interference in court procedure will be severely punished.
To address difficulties for the public in filing cases, current accreditation by courts will be replaced by a case registration system. Authorities are determined to put an end to obstructive behavior by courts and officials meddling in cases.
The rules state that "people's courts must accept cases that should be handled according to the law, and no unit nor individual may obstruct for any reason."
Cases referred by the rules are first instance only, excluding appeals and retrials. Civil, administrative and criminal lawsuits, executions and applications for state compensation must be accepted by courts immediately. If a case cannot be filed immediately, it should be filed within the legal deadline. If there is no clear ruling of whether a case should be filed, the rules instruct the courts to file first and ask questions later.
If the case cannot be filed due to a lack of material, courts must clearly explain to applicants what material is needed. If the case cannot be filed according to law, courts should inform applicants immediately, so they can appeal or apply for a review.
Cases involving state sovereignty, territorial integrity, national unification and unity or national religious policy, and matters outside the courts' jurisdiction, may not be filed.
The rules "do not encourage people to file lawsuits" according to SPC Vice President Jing Hanchao, but "going to court is the last resort and certainly not the best way to resolve disputes."
Other means of dispute settlement, such as mediation and arbitration, should be used to alleviate pressure on the courts and save costs, said an SPC statement.
"Courts should be subject to supervision by the legislature, procuratorate, news media and the public," it said.
Those who delay or interfere with the filing of suits should be punished. Criminal liability should be pursued if the interference leads to grave results or a harmful social influence.