Local Chinese Court Implements Financial "Self-Discipline" Measures to Encourage Judicial Performance (Story in Chinese)

October 5, 2004

According to an article appearing on the China Court Website, a local court in Xintai city, Shandong province is implementing "financial responsibility" measures aimed at creating incentives for judicial performance. More information is available on the Xintai government website.

Under the financial responsibility measures, which came into effect on January 1, 2004, individual judges make theoretically voluntary salary contributions to a designated account, to which the court will make additional contributions based on the judge's work performance. As judges' careers progress, they may be able to withdraw some of the funds, or may be docked given amounts, based on continuing evaluations of their work performance. Upon retirement, they may receive the remaining amount.

Anti-corruption tools such as these raise significant concerns regarding judicial independence. First, they give court leaders a tool to discipline judges who might be inclined to decide cases against Party interests. Second, even in the case where financial reward "targets" are independently set, they often conflict with core judicial duties. For example, systems that reward judges for reducing their reversal rate to a target level encourage judges to seek the opinions of higher court judges prior to issuing their own decisions, or lead them to pressure parties to reach a mediated settlement.