The Supreme People’s Procuratorate recently issued the Provisions of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Judicial Interpretations (the “Provisions”), which is drafted according to the Law on the Organization of the People’s Procuratorate of the People’s Republic of China and the Resolution of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening Judicial Interpretation Work as well as how the work is done in practice, to strengthen and regulate judicial interpretation work, unify the standards for applying laws and safeguard justice The specifics are highlighted below:
1. Setting out the departments responsible for judicial interpretations
For issues on the application of law encountered by the people’s procuratorate in its procuratorial work, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate will render the judicial interpretation, and the local people’s procuratorates and specialized people’s procuratorates are not to render judicial interpretations or prepare documents with judicial interpretation characteristics. The research and drafting of judicial interpretations shall be handled by the Law and Policy Research Office of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the procuratorates. The Law and Policy Research Office is mainly responsible for comprehensive judicial interpretations involving the work of multiple departments, including the initiation, review, numbering, recordation, and organization of judicial interpretations. The procuratorates are mainly responsible for the research and drafting of judicial interpretations within the scope of their work.
The judicial interpretation work is supervised by the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee. If the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee believe that a judicial interpretation violates the law, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate should promptly amend or vacate it.
2. The judicial interpretation procedure
The procedure for formulating judicial interpretations includes: (1) the initiation of judicial interpretations; (2) the drafting and review of judicial interpretations; (3) review by the Procuratorial Committee; and (4) the release and recordation of judicial interpretations.
The Provisions state that initiation proposals for the following year should be made by the end of each year. If a temporary judicial interpretation is to be made, the initiation proposal shall be made in a timely manner. The Law and Policy Research Office shall prepare its work plan for this year’s judicial interpretation work at the beginning of each year based on the proposals made and submits it to the Procurator-General, who will decide whether to submit the work plan to the Procuratorial Committee for review. If it is not possible to complete according to the annual work plan, the department drafting judicial interpretations shall promptly make a written explanation, and the Law and Policy Research Office shall submit an opinion on whether to continue with the initiation and report it to the Procurator-General for a decision.
The sources of initiation include: (1) a decision made by the Procuratorial Committee of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on the formulation of a judicial interpretation; (2) the instructions of the Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on the formulation of judicial interpretation; (3) recommendations from by the Law and Policy Research Office of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and by the procuratorates to render judicial interpretations; (4) requests from provincial people’s procuratorates to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate for judicial interpretations; (5) recommendations or proposals from the Deputies to the National People’s Congress and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on judicial interpretations; and (6) recommendations by other relevant organs, social groups or organizations and citizens to render judicial interpretations.
(2) Drafting and review
After the drafting department conducts its research on the judicial interpretation to be initiated, a draft opinion shall be prepared as soon as possible for submission to the relevant special committee of the People’s National Congress or the relevant working body of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for comments. If the drafting department believes that it can be submitted to the Procuratorial Committee for deliberation, it shall prepare the judicial interpretation draft, an explanation about the draft and relevant materials, such as typical cases. Once approval of the Deputy Procurator-General in charge approves of the draft, it will be passed to the Law and Policy Research Office for review. If the Law and Policy Research Office believes that further revision, supplements or arguments are required, a written opinion shall be prepared with the submission returned to the drafting department. If it is deemed necessary to solicit the opinions of the relevant agencies, they may be solicited in the name of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate or the General Office of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate upon obtaining the approval of the Deputy Procurator-General.
(3) Deliberation by the Procuratorial Committee
In deliberating judicial interpretations before, the Procuratorial Committee of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Law and Policy Research Office makes the reports, while the drafting department explains the relevant issues and answer questions from the committee members. If the Procuratorial Committee believes, as a result of the deliberation, that the conditions for formulating the judicial interpretation are not yet ripe, it may decide to conduct further research or cancel the initiation proposal. After a judicial interpretation passes deliberation, the Law and Policy Research Office may revise the judicial interpretation draft based on the deliberation opinions and submit it to the Procurator-General for signature and issuance.
(4) Release and recordation of judicial interpretations
After a judicial interpretation is adopted, it will be published in the Gazette of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the official website of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. The publication date shall be the effective date unless otherwise stipulated in the judicial interpretation.
The judicial interpretation shall be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for recordation within 30 days from the date of publication.
The Provisions mainly clarify the departments that prepare judicial interpretations in the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, refine the procedures, and provide better support for the authority of judicial interpretations.