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Courts as Legislators: Supreme People’s Court Interpretations and Procedural Reforms

Randall Peerenboom
Publication date: 
Thu, 30 Aug 2007

Courts in China today often act like legislative bodies, making law by issuing interpretations of laws that are binding on the courts. The general trend in China has been towards more transparency and greater public participation in legislative law-making and administrative rulemaking processes. In contrast, the judicial interpretation process is less transparent, with significantly less room for public participation.

The SPC should give teeth to the general reform recommendations in the Second Five-Year Agenda by promulgating detailed rules for hearings and a notice and comment system that provide the general public with a greater say in the drafting of interpretations and other quasi-legislative documents.
The need for a constitutional review body has been much debated in China. The creation of such a body is not within the power of the SPC. Nor is it likely to occur in the near future. Nevertheless, there is growing pressure to address the issue.