We must con­tinue to im­prove ef­fi­ciency

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

Zhang Yan, 40, works at Bei­jing No 4 In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court. She has han­dled ad­min­is­tra­tive cases for more than 11 years.

In the past two years, I have wit­nessed a large rise in the num­ber of ad­min­is­tra­tive cases be­ing sub­mit­ted. That’s be­cause the re­form stip­u­lates that cases must be ac­cepted or re­jected within a day of be­ing filed, rather than af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary re­view of the mer­its of the case. This re­moves un­nec­es­sary bar­ri­ers and pro­tects the right of lit­i­gants to sub­mit cases.

In 2014, I han­dled more than 240 cases, but that num­ber was over­taken in just three months in 2015.

A state­ment is­sued by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court in June shows that, as a re­sult of the re­form, courts have seen a sig­nif­i­cant rise in the num­ber of res­i­dents sub­mit­ting and win­ning cases against gov­ern­ment departments.

Last year, for ex­am­ple, courts na­tion­wide dealt with 225,020 cases — a year-on-year rise of 13.2 per­cent — which were mainly re­lated to plain­tiffs’ stan­dards of liv­ing, such as dis­putes over land or house de­mo­li­tions.

The ef­fi­ciency with which ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­putes are re­solved of­ten re­flects how ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment departments have been in im­ple­ment­ing the re­form.

The heads or lead­ers of gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties are re­quired to at­tend court hear­ings, which was rarely the case in the past. I feel gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to the pro­ce­dures in ad­min­is­tra­tive cases be­cause the high level of pub­lic­ity means their departments are ex­pected to pro­vide bet­ter, fairer ser­vices.

I don’t think case hear­ings are just about who is right and who is wrong. They also serve to pop­u­lar­ize the re­form by al­low­ing peo­ple to see the im­prove­ments in our ju­di­cial process. The bet­ter gov­ern­ment departments un­der­stand the laws and re­form, the bet­ter able they will be to pro­vide ser­vices for lit­i­gants and solve their prob­lems.

I work at Bei­jing No 4 In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court, es­tab­lished as part of the re­form, and I hear cases from across the city. The move is in­tended to pre­vent lo­cal gov­ern­ment departments from in­ter­fer­ing in court cases, and to en­sure that all judg­ments are made in­de­pen­dently.

At present, a ma­jor prob­lem is that the judges in our ad­min­is­tra­tive tri­bunal are over­whelmed by the soar­ing num­ber of dis­putes. I of­ten have to work over­time.

As a re­sult, I think the next step will be to study ways of im­prov­ing le­gal ef­fi­ciency in ad­min­is­tra­tive case hear­ings.

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