Lihui Jiang and Teresa Huang
On June 7, 2022, the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People’s Court adopted the Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Cases involving the Personal Safety Protection Order (hereinafter referred to as the “Provisions”), which came into effect on August 1, 2022. The Provisions consist of 13 articles, mainly covering the following five aspects:
1. Clarified that cases involving the personal safety protection order are not dependent on a divorce or any other civil lawsuit.
Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the Provisions stipulates that the institution of a divorce or any other civil lawsuit shall not be taken as a condition for the application to a people’s court for a personal safety protection order. This provision has clarified the independence of the personal safety protection order, which can stop domestic violence in a quicker and timely manner.
2. Expanded the circumstances and subject scope for the application on behalf of the party.
Article 2 of the Provisions specifies that under the circumstances where a party is unable to apply for a personal safety protection order such as “old age, disability, serious illness”, the relevant departments may file an application on behalf of the party based on the will thereof. This provision has expanded the scope of protected persons compared with persons without civil capacity or persons with limited civil capacity as prescribed in the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, but it still needs to respect the “will of the party”.
3. Expanded the forms of domestic violence.
According to the Anti-Domestic Violence Law, “domestic violence” means the inflicting of physical, psychological or other harm by a family member on another by beating, trussing, injury, restriction of personal liberty, recurring verbal abuse, threats and other means. Article 3 of the Provisions clarifies that the physical or psychological injury caused by a family member to another by such means as exposure to cold and hunger, frequent insult, slander, threat, stalking, or harassment shall be deemed as “domestic violence”. This article has expanded the applicable scope of a personal safety protection order, thus strengthening the protection of family members.
4. Clarified the types of evidence and the standard of proof.
Article 6 of the Provisions lists ten types of evidence and specifies that the standard of proof for issuing a personal safety protection order is “more likely” that the applicant has suffered domestic violence or is in real danger of domestic violence. This provision has reduced the burden of proof of the party, thus being conducive to giving full play to the role of the personal safety protection order.
5. Increased the punishment for violation of a personal safety protection order.
Article 12 of the Provisions, which includes the violation of a personal safety protection order into the applicable scope of crimes of refusal to satisfy a judgment or ruling, has increased the criminal crackdown and enhanced the authority of a personal safety protection order compared with Article 34 of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law.