Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme PeopleÕs Procuratorate on Issues concerning the Legal Supervision of Civil Enforcement Activities

James Cheng
To compel people’s courts to enforce the law and to regulate the legal supervision of civil enforcement by the People’s Procuratorates, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, jointly promulgated the Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Issues concerning the Legal Supervision of Civil Enforcement Activities (the “Provisions”) on December 19 in the hope that civil enforcement will be sufficiently and effectively supervised through the promulgation of the Provisions. The key points of the Provisions are highlighted below:
1. People’s procuratorates are the primary agencies handling the supervision of civil enforcement activities
The Provisions expressly set down the principle that the people’s procuratorates are in charge of supervising civil enforcement activities, and that the people’s courts must submit to such supervision by the peoples’ procuratorates pursuant to law. The Provisions also confirm the scope of supervision, which includes the supervision of enforcement activities concerning legal documents such as final civil decisions, orders, mediations, payment orders, arbitral awards and notarized claims. With respect to jurisdiction of supervision, generally the people’s procuratorate of the same level for the location of the enforcement court will have jurisdiction for supervision, and exceptions will either be handled by a higher people’s procuratorate handling supervision of civil enforcement under the jurisdiction of a lower people’s procuratorate, or the lower people’s procuratorate requesting the higher people’s procuratorate to handle the supervision of a matter in its jurisdiction.
2. Supervision upon application or ex officio
If any party or interested party or any person who is not a party to a matter believes that an enforcement activity conducted by a people’s court is in violation of the law, an application may be filed with a people’s procuratorate for supervision. However, if an objection, reconsideration application or lawsuit may still be filed under the law, and no party, interested party or person who is not a party to the matter applies to the people’s procuratorate for supervision directly without filing an objection, reconsideration application or lawsuit first, the people’s procuratorate will not accept the application unless there is a proper reason to do so. This requirement will not cause entities, such as the relevant parties who are not familiar with the legal requirements, to be prejudiced to apply for supervision for failure to file an objection or reconsideration application first. Article 7 of the Provisions specifically provide for the circumstances where the people’s procuratorate shall ex officio and proactively supervise cases, including those undermining national, or public interest, or those that carry serious impact to the public at large, or if enforcement personnel are found to have engaged in bribery and corruption, malfeasance, illegal enforcement, etc., as well as other cases whose files have been set up at the judiciary agencies or whose supervision is deemed necessary by the people’s procuratorate.
3. The rights of the people’s procuratorates in supervision
To accommodate the demand for supervision, a people’s procuratorate has the right to review the enforcement file volume at the courts, and the people’s court must provide the file volume within five days. In addition, people’s procuratorates also have the power to investigate and verify the relevant circumstances with a party or any person who is not a party to the matter, or conduct a written investigation and verification of how a people’s court may have been in dereliction of duty. The people’s court shall explain the status and reasons of case enforcement and provide a written response to the people’s procuratorate in 15 days.
4. Decision of a people’s procuratorate on supervised cases
After the investigation by a people’s procuratorate is concluded, it may make supervisory and procuratorial recommendations on civil enforcement to the people’s court. After receiving the recommendations from the people’ procuratorate, the people’s court shall respond within three months to the people’s procuratorate in the form of a response letter communicating the status of the case as well as attach the relevant legal documents such as orders or decisions. A one-month extension for special circumstances may be granted with the approval of the president. If a people’s court fails to reply within the required period after receiving the procuratorial recommendations or fails to handle the matter properly, the people’s procuratorate that issued the procuratorial recommendation may ex officio request an immediate higher-up people’s procuratorate to issue a procuratorial recommendation to a people’s court of the same level. If the higher-up people’s procuratorate finds supervision to be necessary, it will issue the procuratorial recommendation to the people’s court, and the people’s court will have to respond in three months in the form of a response letter. If the people’s court concurs with the people’s procuratorate, the people’s court shall notify its lower people’s court to make the timely corrections.