Revisions will make lawsuits easier to file

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2011, 12:00am


Mainlanders should have an easier time filing lawsuits over environmental concerns or consumer disputes under revisions the NPC Standing Committee may make to the law governing civil proceedings.

The changes to the Civil Procedural Law allow for 'public interest' litigation, meaning legal action can be taken by people on behalf of a wider community. Previously, lawsuits were restricted solely to individuals directly involved in a legal claim.

According to state media, the revision is the first overhaul of the law since it was passed in 1991. The changes have not yet been made public.

The revision targets two main problems with the mainland's civil courts - the difficulty in successfully filing a lawsuit and, once heard, seeing the judgment enforced. Courts would be required to state in writing why a lawsuit was rejected, and a plaintiff can appeal the decision. There will also be changes to the summary and small-claims procedures, pre-trial procedures, retrials, enforcements and use of evidence.

Wang Shengming, the deputy head of the Standing Committee's legal works committee, said the revision allowed for organisations or social groups to file lawsuits on behalf of the public interest. Wang said the change was needed due to the rising number of cases related to pollution and food safety.

The Standing Committee also considered the first draft of the Mental Health Law, amendments to the Resident Identity Card Law, and a special legal document on anti-terrorism work.

Observers welcomed the Mental Health Law, which confers legal protection on people under psychiatric care. However hospitals will continue to hold the exclusive right to make a detention compulsory, which some critics find undesirable.

The committee is expected to pass a document that addresses the definition of a terrorist and a terrorist organisation.