Guiding Opinion of the All China Lawyers Association Regarding Lawyers Handling Cases of a Mass Nature (CECC Full Translation)


The following is a translation prepared by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China of the "Guiding Opinion of the All China Lawyers Association Regarding Lawyers Handling Cases of a Mass Nature," distributed by the All China Lawyers Association on March 20, 2006. A summary of the projected impact of these provisions is available here.

At present and hereafter, during this important era in which our nation is constructing a socialist harmonious society, the correct handling of cases of a mass nature is essential to the construction of a harmonious society. Cases of a mass nature more commonly occur in land requisitioning and levying of taxes, building demolitions, migrant enclaves, enterprise transformation, environmental pollution, and protection of the rights and interests of rural laborers, among other areas. Cases of a mass nature generally have comparatively complicated social, economic, and political causes, and have effects on the state and society that vary in degree and cannot be ignored. Thus, there is a need to standardize and guide lawyer handling of cases of a mass nature. Thus, the following work opinions are put forward:


1. Cases of a mass nature are defined as many (10 or more) people serving as one party to the matter, who, on the basis of the same or similar questions of fact or questions of law, initiate litigation by one representative or joint litigation; or cases in which the matter is divided and handled through a series of litigation or non-litigation. Law firms are entrusted in accordance with law to provide legal services on non-litigation, litigation, and related tasks in cases of a mass nature; or, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, lawyers can undertake other legal tasks in cases of a mass nature.

Lawyers who undertake cases of a mass nature can only go through legal channels to perform their professional duties with respect to the legal issues. Lawyers who intervene in cases of a mass nature must be helpful to the government, enterprises, and other opposing parties in their handling of matters in accordance with law. Lawyers who get involved on an individual case basis, engage in analysis and inquiry, and propose legal opinions and suggestions, must be helpful to the promotion of judicial and legislative activities and lawful administration.

In cases of a mass nature, lawyers can be retained by a mass client and provide legal consultation on their behalf, participate in mediation, and act as their agent in litigation. Lawyers can also provide consultative services as legal counsel to the government and enterprises, in order to assist the government and judicial agencies in handling and resolving issues, and can also be retained by the government, enterprises, and other opposing parties, to act as their agent in litigation and participate in mediation. Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall serve their client within the bounds of their professional duties, in accordance with law and strictly abiding by professional ethics and disciplinary rules.

2. Lawyers shall, with a great sense of social responsibility, attach the utmost significance to cases of a mass nature; be devoted to the Constitution; be devoted to the law; be devoted to their duties; maintain their principles; safeguard their client's lawful rights in a way that fulfills their duties and responsibilities; safeguard the law, social equity, and justice; actively participate in and facilitate the appropriate resolution of cases of a mass nature; safeguard the nation's stability; ensure economic development; and promote social harmony.

Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall attempt to resolve contradiction and conflict, and assist all parties to a dispute in the selection of lawful, suitable, peaceful, and reliable paths and methods for resolution of the dispute. They shall propose mediation to resolve conflict.

3. Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall adhere to this "Guiding Opinion," in addition to strictly abiding by professional ethics, disciplinary rules, and other industry rules.

Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall accept supervision and guidance by judicial administration departments.

Lawyers associations have the responsibility to supervise, standardize, and safeguard lawyers handling cases of a mass nature in accordance with law.


Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall pay attention to good handling of their relationships with the client, judicial agencies, the government, the media, and the public, among others.
Relationship with client.

1. Lawyers shall assist, supervise, and urge the client to honestly testify to the details of the case, and cannot support or assist the client in intentionally concealing or omitting important evidence or providing false testimony.

2. Lawyers shall do their best to avoid development of a situation in which the popular mood becomes unstable because a portion of the clients or the representative has provided false testimony or distorted the details of the case.

3. Lawyers shall refuse blatantly irrational demands raised by the client, the client's representative, or the client's agent.

4. Lawyers must neither instigate nor participate in the petitioning activities of the client, the client's representative, or the client's agent. Lawyers must neither participate in nor suggest the client's use of methods such as violating public security or interfering with the normal work of state agencies to compel a resolution to the case.

5. Where the following circumstances exist, a law firm can rescind the retainer agreement and terminate the lawyer-client relationship:

(1) The client persists in demands that violate the law;
(2) The client conceals or distorts important facts;
(3) The client uses the lawyer's services to engage in activities that violate the law;
(4) Other objective reasons that make it difficult for the lawyer to normally perform professional duties.

Relationship with judicial agencies. After a lawyer has accepted a case of a mass nature, he must promptly and fully communicate with the relevant justice bureau, and seek truth from the facts to report the situation, so that the appropriate level of significance may be attached. He must actively assist the judicial agency in ascertaining the facts. If there is a need, he can go through the lawyers association to report any problems to the judicial agency.

Relationship with the government.  After a lawyer has accepted a case of mass nature, he must go through legitimate channels to promptly report the situation to the relevant government bureaus.  If he discovers issues or signs of a potential intensifying of the conflict or expanding of the situation, he shall immediately report to judicial administration authorities.

Relationship with the media. Lawyers and law firms must have an appropriate grasp of their relations with the media (including online media), seek truth from the facts, and be cautious in their commentary. They must not stir up the news, and must not pay for news coverage. They shall discreetly handle their contacts with overseas organizations and overseas media.


Lawyers who handle cases of a mass nature shall comply with the following demands:

1. The system of reporting and placing cases on file. After a law firm has been retained in a case of a mass nature, it shall promptly report to the lawyers association to which it is subordinate. Where numerous law firms have undertaken a case on behalf of different clients, but based on the same appeals, they can consult with one another to determine the one law firm that will be responsible for reporting to the lawyers association. Law firms in different regions that accept the same case shall separately report to the respective lawyers associations to which they are subordinate.

2. Collective discussion, reinforced supervision. The undertaking of a case of a mass nature shall be collectively discussed and decided upon by at least three partners at a law firm, who will jointly accept the retainer, designate a person to undertake the case, and mutually research a work plan. The director of the law firm shall have full responsibility for oversight and supervision of lawyers handling cases of a mass nature, and shall promptly curb and adopt remedial measures against any behavior in violation of regulations that is discovered during the course of a lawyer's handling of the case.

3. Completion of consultation and intake work. Law firms shall arrange for two or more politically and professionally qualified, well-experienced lawyers to conduct intake during consultations on cases of a mass nature, and they shall complete an intake record. One must be painstaking and thorough in responding to those who come in for consultation, and cannot be hasty in providing opinions. Law firms that decide to take a case shall complete a comprehensive record of their acceptance of the case.

4. Lawyers who are requested by the relevant government bureau to participate in intake work for petitioning must safeguard social stability while also safeguarding the lawful rights of the mass client. Lawyers shall, within the bounds of their own professional duties, work hard to support the work launched by the relevant bureaus, lead the client towards the lawful handling of matters, and do their best to persuade the client not to petition to higher levels or to mass petition.

5. Depending on the particular circumstances of a case of a mass nature, law firms can enter into a retainer agreement with the client and also enter into a retainer agreement with the client's authorized representative or agent. After a case has entered the litigation stage and a court has made a request for each retainer letter authorized by the client, the law firm shall assist with the formalities.

6. After a case of a mass nature has concluded, the law firm shall promptly report the situation to the lawyers association to which it is subordinate.

7. Law firms shall guarantee the completeness, thoroughness, orderliness, and tidiness of the case dossier while handling a case of a mass nature.


When lawyers handle cases of a mass nature in accordance with law, a lawyers association shall provide support, guidance, and supervision:

1. Lawyers associations have the authority to familiarize themselves with the circumstances of a lawyer's handling of a case, and to put forward suggestions;

2. Pursuant to a law firm's request, a lawyers association can organize an individual case study. It can also, on its own, decide to convene a case study symposium and put forward its opinions;

3. With respect to cases of a mass nature with major impact, lawyers associations shall promptly communicate and coordinate with the relevant bureaus. Lawyers associations can, based on need, express their opinions to the public on issues related to the case.

4. If there is harm to a lawyer's personal integrity and professional rights, a lawyers association shall promptly report the situation to the relevant bureau and urge the relevant bureau to adopt measures to safeguard the lawyer's lawful rights;

5. If there is harm to a lawyer's professional rights outside [his practicing jurisdiction], and he requests support from the lawyers association to which he is subordinate, the lawyers association receiving his request shall provide support. The All China Lawyers Association can, based on need, conduct organized coordination of activities to defend the lawyer's rights.

6. Law associations can, based on request by a law firm or on the basis of their judgment regarding appropriate handling of the issue, propose or remind each party's lawyers to enter into mediation and negotiation, and to resolve conflict.

7. With respect to cases of a mass nature with major impact, lawyers associations shall promptly share information with the judicial administration departments at their same level [of administration].

8. If a lawyer or law firm does not handle cases of a mass nature in accordance with this "Opinion," and thus brings about a negative impact, a lawyers association can administer a punishment based on the relevant industry rules or propose the administration of a punishment by a judicial administration department.

9. Lawyers associations shall strengthen professional training for lawyers handling cases of a mass nature and shall provide general guidance on situational policies, case handling strategies, and work demands.


When taking on major cases of a sensitive nature, lawyers shall abide by this guiding opinion.

Cases of a mass nature that have already been taken on before this "Guiding Opinion" went into effect shall be reorganized in accordance with the demands of this "Guiding Opinion."

The All China Lawyers Association Executive Council will take on responsibility for interpreting and revising this "Guiding Opinion."

This "Guiding Opinion" was formulated based on the "Lawyers Association Articles of Association." It has been placed on filed with judicial administration departments.

This "Guiding Opinion" will be implemented on a trial basis from the date of its issuance.



  当前及今后一段时间我国处于建设社会主义和谐社会的重要时期,正确处理群体性案件对建设和谐社会至关重要。群体性案件较多发生在土地征用征收、 房屋拆迁、库区移民、企业改制、环境污染以及农民工权益保障等方面。群体性案件通常有着较为复杂的社会、经济、政治等原因,对国家、社会有着不容忽视和不 同程度的影响。因此,有必要对律师办理群体性案件进行规范和指导。为此,提出以下工作意见。


  (一)群体性案件,是指一方当事人众多(十人以上)、基于同一或类似的事实问题或法律问题而提起的代表人诉讼或共同诉讼;或者分案处理的系列诉 讼或非诉讼案件;律师事务所依法接受委托,为群体性案件非诉、诉讼以及相关业务提供的法律服务;或者依照有关法律法规可以由律师承办的其他群体性案件法律 业务。


  在群体性案件中,律师可以接受群体当事人的委托,为其提供法律咨询,参与调解,代理诉讼;也可以作为政府、企业的法律顾问提供咨询服务,协助政 府和司法机关处理和解决问题;接受政府、企业等相对方的委托,代理诉讼,参与调解。律师办理群体性案件,应当依照法律,恪守职业道德和执业纪律,在其专业 职责范围内为当事人服务。














  ① 委托人坚持违法要求的;
  ② 委托人隐瞒、歪曲重要事实的;
  ③ 委托人利用律师服务从事违法活动的;
  ④ 其他客观原因导致律师难以正常履行职责的。

  与司法机关的关系 律师受理群体性案件后,要及时与有关司法部门充分沟通,实事求是反映情况,以引起应有的重视。要积极协助司法机关查明事实。如果需要,可通过律师协会向司法机关反映问题。

  与政府的关系 律师受理群体性案件后,应通过正当渠道及时向政府相关部门反映情况,发现有可能激化矛盾扩大事态的问题和苗头应当立即报告司法行政主管机关。

  与媒体的关系 律师和律师事务所要恰当把握与媒体(包括网络媒体)的关系,实事求是,谨慎评论。不炒作新闻,不搞有偿新闻。应慎重对待与境外组织和境外媒体的接触。