Fighting Local Protectionism

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I posted on the subject of local protectionism yesterday with respect to IP cases. Saw this in the news this morning, although I have not had the chance to read anything else on this development:

The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) released two important judicial interpretations yesterday, aimed at reforming the administrative litigation jurisdiction system.

From next month, all cases with State agencies above county level as plaintiffs, common lawsuits or collective lawsuits with major social significance and large foreign-related cases or cases with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan parties involved, will be handled by the intermediate people’s court during the first hearings, according to the new regulation.

Litigants can also apply for a first hearing in an intermediate people’s court if they think the case is large and complicated or not suitable for a grassroots court to hear.

An intermediate court will either accept to deal with it by itself or designate another grassroots court to take it.

Designated administrative trials have recorded higher successful rates for the plaintiffs.

The article uses a local real estate dispute as an example, and at first glance, that does seem to be the most likely significant impact. Giving people a better shot at resolving land disputes through civil litigation sounds great, of course, although I would be interested to hear from litigators who deal with this sort of thing what they think the real impact might be. I wonder if the Intermediate Court officials will grant a lot of these motions or refuse them?

Just for the record, I don’t see this having an impact on the kinds of IP cases I was talking about yesterday. Cases involving a foreign IP owner and a Chinese infringer typically start at the Intermediate Court level anyway.

Whatever the impact, it’s nice to see this sort of thing. The effort should be acknowledged as part of the overall rule of law reform movement.