PRC Civil Procedure Law Amendments and Court Judgments

October 15, 2012

China recently adopted amendments to the Civil Procedure Law, and I confess that I have not been following this process very carefully, mostly because the amendments deal with court procedure. I am not a litigator, and these process reforms do not really effect my practice.

That being said, I was checking out a post on the topic this evening from the excellent folks over at King & Wood (their China law blog is one of the best) and came across this little nugget:

The CPL now obliges courts to make legally effective judgments and rulings publicly available except for those involving state secrets, trade secrets or personal privacy. This is intended to improve public supervision of the court’s practice as well as facilitating legal practitioners’ access to jurisprudence.

I’m wondering why this is not getting more attention, unless this somehow does not apply to most cases or there is more judicial discretion than the description suggests.

If the CPL amendment on judicial opinions is what it seems, that’s big news. Not being able to obtain court judgments is a HUGE pain in the ass for practicing lawyers, not to mention journalists, foreign governments, and a lot of other folks.

It’s hard to imagine that judges would have to disclose all their judgments, though. Just the thought of that kind of transparency would freak them out. Maybe these exceptions for national security, trade secrets and personal privacy will be interpreted broadly. I could see, for example, a lot of criminal cases being kept secret with the “personal privacy” excuse.

Stay tuned. Next year could be interesting.