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Judicial interpretation offers clarity on public-interest lawsuits

By Cao Yin (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated : 2018-03-02

A judicial interpretation on how prosecutors make lawsuits against poorly performing agencies or government departments was unveiled by China’s top procuratorate and the top court on March 2.

The interpretation clarifies that Chinese prosecutors can sue agencies or government departments which abuse their power or fail in their duties.

It aims to ensure that local authorities do their jobs in environmental protection, food and drug safety, preservation of State assets and the transfer of land rights by giving stronger oversight role to procuratorates.

The interpretation, effective on Friday, follows the amendments to the Administrative Procedure Law and the Civil Procedure Law, in which procuratorates are allowed to make public-interest lawsuits. The two laws were revised and passed in June.

“The amendments urge us to play a role in supervising government departments, while the new interpretation will help us solve cases more practically,” said Zhang Xueqiao, deputy chief procurator at the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.

For example, the interpretation stipulates prosecutors should first send judicial alerts to poorly performing government departments before suing them, and those that do not correct their mistakes within two months will face legal action.

The article can order government departments to fix problems as soon as possible and can save judicial resources, said Hu Weilie, a prosecutor from the top procuratorate.

“Efficiently protecting the public interest is our goal instead of taking government agencies to court,” he added.

From July to January, prosecutors nationwide sent 9,497 alerts and filed 272 lawsuits, according to procuratorate statistics.