Lihui Jiang and Teresa Huang
On March 22, 2022, the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People’s Court deliberated and adopted the Decision of the Supreme People’s Court on Amending the Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter, the “Decision”), which came into effect on April 10, 2022. The Decision amends the corresponding numbering and expression of the provisions of the Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter, the “Interpretation”) strictly in comparison with the relevant provisions of the new Civil Procedure Law. Consisting of a total of 16 articles, the Decision mainly covers the following six aspects:
1. Modifying the provisions related to the extension of the trial period for summary procedure cases. Article 6 of the Decision changes the condition for extending the trial period of summary procedure cases from the previous “agreement between both parties to continue to apply the summary procedure” to “extension required under special circumstances” and revises the maximum trial period of summary procedure cases from 6 months to 4 months.
2. Revising the provisions related to procedural switch and procedural objection. Article 6 of the Decision also amended the condition for switching the summary procedure to the ordinary procedure from “complex cases” to “unsuitability for the summary procedure.” At the same time, Article 8 of the Decision clarifies that if a party’s objection to the application of the summary procedure is not sustained, the people’s court shall issue a ruling, which may be issued orally, to reject the application. The former leaves room for the next step to refine the switching criteria, and the latter makes the procedure more rigorous.
3. Revising the provisions on the service of litigation documents in a simple manner. Article 7 of the Decision specifically provides that the people’s court may adopt simple methods such as messages, phone calls, SMS, faxes, and e-mails to summon both parties, notify witnesses and serve litigation documents in accordance with Articles 90 and 162 of the Civil Procedure Law. It is worth noting that the scope of service of process is broader than that of “service of process other than adjudication documents” before the amendment.
4. Revising the relevant provisions on small-claims cases. Article 10 of the Decision deletes the provisions of Article 274 and Article 275 of the Civil Procedure Law on the specific application and types of cases to which the small claims procedure does not apply. In addition, Article 9 adjusts the standard of the small claims procedure for marine and maritime cases. This amendment removes the restriction that such a procedure is limited to “30% of the average annual wage of the employees in the previous year” and replaces it with “calculation based on the average annual wage of the employees in the previous year.”
5. Modifying the provisions related to the common jurisdiction of judicial confirmation cases. Article 14 of the Decision, in reference to Article 201 of the new Civil Procedure Law on the jurisdictional rules of judicial confirmation cases, contains corresponding modifications concerning the jurisdictional issues of judicial confirmation cases conducted by mediation organizations on their own initiative.
6. Adjusting the numbering of the articles of Civil Procedure Law as cited and the order of the provisions of the judicial interpretations themselves. In addition, the Decision also modifies the individual expressions. For example, the “child support” under Articles 9 and 218 is changed to “alimony” to ensure that the Interpretation of the Civil Procedure Law is consistent with the new Civil Procedure Law and other laws.