Foreigners in China to gain access to court verdicts

Accra, Sept 7, GNA –
An English-language version of a website operated by China’s top court would
make it easier for foreigners to learn how the country’s courts make judgments.

It would also
provide them with information about related judicial documents.

“We need to
introduce the verdict website in English, as disputes involving foreign
litigants are rising rapidly, and to assist in the preparation of related
work,” said Li Liang, Director of the Trial Management Department at the
Supreme People’s Court, on Tuesday.

Although verdicts
must be written in Chinese to comply with the law, “We’d like to provide
foreigners with a better guide in English on the website if they need to search
for verdicts and related judicial documents,” Li said.

He said some courts
in coastal regions, such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, have been looking
to provide foreigners with legal services amid an increasing number of
foreign-related cases in these regions.

“We hope to
ease access to courts for litigants, no matter where they are from,” he
said, adding that the English-language version would be based on the Chinese
website that covers verdicts.

Since July 2013, the
Chinese version has attracted more than 2 billion visits, including 500 million
from overseas, and has published more than 20 million verdicts, according to
the top court.

Liu Xuewen, a member
of the court’s Judicial Committee, said the website helps users who register to
search for and download verdicts.

“This is an
effective way to improve judicial transparency,” Liu said.

To better regulate
disclosure, the top court also issued a revised rule on Monday to clarify how
verdicts should be released and the types of judgments that should not be
disclosed.

From October 1, when
the new rule takes effect, all verdicts should be open to the public online
within seven days, and the range of disclosures will be expanded.

“In the past,
some courts did not release initial rulings on the website as there was no
unified standard on disclosure,” Li said. “But starting in October,
judgments made at any stage will be released.”

The rule makes it
clear that verdicts relating to divorces, offenders under age 18 and State
secrets are exempt from disclosure.

Litigants’ personal
information, such as home addresses, bank account details and numbers of car
registration plates or identity cards, should be deleted from the verdict, the
rule states.

Huang Jin, President
of China University of Political Science and Law, praised the new move, but
said some courts are too conservative in making administrative and criminal
verdicts public.

Of the 20 million
verdicts published since July 2013, 3.6 million related to criminal cases,
while 680,000 involved administrative cases, Huang said.

The website should
also supply a channel for people to report suspected flawed verdicts or
improper disclosure promptly, he said.

GNA

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