Second Five-Year Reform Program for the People's Courts (2004-2008) (CECC Partial Translation)

Supreme People's Court


The following is a partial translation prepared by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China of the "Second Five Year Reform Program for the People's Courts (2004-2008)" issued by the Supreme People's Court on October 26, 2005. The Chinese text was retrieved from the Web site on January 26, 2006. An analysis of the reform program is available here.

I)    Reforming and Perfecting Litigation Procedure Systems

1)    Reforming and perfecting adjudication procedures for death penalty cases. For those cases in which people's courts may impose the death penalty in accordance with first instance procedures for adjudication, witnesses and forensic experts shall appear in court, except those cases where the defendant has confessed or where the prosecution and defense do not dispute the evidence. After 2006, death penalty cases which people's courts are handling in accordance with second instance procedures for adjudication shall all be handled in court, and relevant witnesses and forensic authenticators should appear in court.

2)    Reforming and perfecting procedures for the review of death penalty decisions. Implementing the relevant laws and central government decisions related to reform of the judicial system, with the Supreme People's Court (SPC) consolidating its exercise of the authority to review death penalty decisions and issuing judicial interpretations regarding procedures for review of death penalty decisions.

3)    Reforming the system of criminal evidence. Issuing criminal evidence rules. Rejecting, in accordance with law, the use of oral evidence obtained through torture or other illegal means. Reinforcing the appearance of witnesses and forensic authenticators in court. Taking further steps to implement principles related to human rights and the presumption of innocence. Making timely legislative proposals on the subject of criminal evidence.

4)    Reforming jurisdiction for civil cases.  Changing the standards by which jurisdiction is assigned simply based on the size of the monetary compensation requested by the plaintiff.  Reforming the jurisdiction of civil cases that cross administrative boundaries. Constructing a system of trial jurisdiction (yi shen) that merges both the amount of monetary compensation and the locales of the parties.  Strengthening the system of increasingly higher jurisdiction, issuing regulations regarding how to use jurisdiction.  Progressively working to ensure that high people's courts (HPCs) do not handle cases of first instance (yi shen) that do not involve questions of common application of law.

5)    Reforming and perfecting the jurisdiction of administrative cases. Institutionally eliminating factors that interfere with administrative trials.  Reforming and perfecting administrative litigation procedure, accumulating experience for the amendment of the Administrative Litigation Law, and making appropriate legislative proposals.

6)    Continuing to explore simplified litigation procedures for civil cases. Constructing an expedited case decision procedure on the basis of simplified civil procedures, and regularizing institutions, operational procedures, trial procedures, and forms, etc for the handling of small debt claims.

7)    Strengthening the case mediation system.  Devoting attention to guiding the work of people's mediators, supporting and supervising arbitration activities. Exploring new dispute-resolution systems in conjunction with other bureaus, promoting and constructing a comprehensive and diverse set of dispute resolution mechanisms.

8)    Reforming and perfecting pre-trial procedures.  Clarifying the different functions of trial and pre-trial procedures.  Regularizing procedures for decisions, pre-trial mediation, pre-trial conference, discovery, technical evaluation of evidence, and other activities.  Clarifying the distribution of responsibilities among relevant organs and people in the handling of pre-trial matters.

9)    Reforming the supervision system for civil and administrative cases, protecting legal rights, and upholding the authority of judicial decisions.  Exploring the construction of a system of suits for judicial retrials (zaishen).  Clarifying the criteria, limits, jurisdiction, and procedures, for retrial applications, institutionally protecting the ability of parties to equally exercise their litigation rights.

10)    Taking steps to implement the principle of open trials.  Adopting new measures of judicial openness, defining the extent and method of openness in the case transfer process.  Providing channels for society to comprehensively understand the court capabilities and activities, increasing the transparency of court trials, execution of judgments, and other court work.

II)    Reforming and Perfecting the System of Trial Guidance and the Mechanisms for the Uniform Use of Law

11)    Carrying out appropriate principles related to crime and punishment. Establishing guidelines for the appropriate use of the death penalty in homicide, robbery, intentional injury, and drug crimes, among others. Ensuring proper use of the death penalty. Researching the establishment of criminal sentencing guidelines for other crimes, and strengthening and perfecting relatively independent criminal sentencing procedures.

12)    Reforming the practice of lower courts seeking advisory opinions (qingshi) from higher courts in difficult cases of application of law.  In cases involving a common question of the applicability of law, lower courts may request that higher courts handle them, pursuant to the request of the parties or in accordance with the court's official powers.  If after examination, a higher court determines that a case meets set criteria, it may directly hear the case.

13)    Constructing and perfecting the case guidance system. Focusing attention on the use of guiding cases to unify legal applicable standards, to guide the work of lower courts, to enrich and develop legal theory, and other uses.  The SPC will issue regulations related to the case guidance system, to regulate the designation of standards and procedures for selecting guiding cases, methods for issuing them, and guidance rules.

14)    Reforming and perfecting the procedure for the SPC to issue judicial interpretations, taking steps to improve the quality of judicial interpretations.  The SPC will exercise uniform responsibility for organizing and coordinating activities including listing, drafting, approving, and issuing judicial interpretations.  The SPC will regularly clean up, amend, abolish, and compile judicial interpretations.  The SPC will regularize the system of filing judicial interpretations with the NPC Standing Committee.

15)    Constructing a coordination mechanism for sharing legal views and understanding between courts, between the trial organs within a court, and between different trial organizations, to unify judicial standards and measures.  Take steps to create and strengthen other effective methods to ensure the unified, just, fair application of law by courts.

III)    Reforming and Perfecting Work Systems and Methods to Enforce Judgments  

16)    Taking steps to reform and perfect systems for the enforcement (zhixing) of court judgments.  The SPC's enforcement organs supervise and guide the enforcement work of China's courts.  The enforcement organs of provincial, autonomous region, and directly administered municipality high people's courts will uniformly manage and coordinate enforcement work in their jurisdictions.

17)    Deepen reforms to the exercise of power for organs that carry out the enforcement of judgments.  Court enforcement organs at all levels will be responsible for executing civil and administrative judicial opinions, decisions, and other legal bases, as well as enforcing those portions of criminal decisions related to property (including property crimes).  With regard to the substantive disputes in the process of enforcing decisions that require hearings to decide, these should be heard by trial organs outside of the enforcement organ.  If necessary, specialized trial organs can be established.  Constructing emergency measures for relief by parties in enforcement cases and third parties, such as requesting review of decisions by the enforcement organ with regard to important procedural questions.

18)    Reforming and perfecting the procedure for enforcement of judgments, strengthening the system for enforcing judicial interpretations.  Actively pushing forward legislation on the enforcement of decisions, regularizing the behavior of every enforcement authority.

19)    Constructing a national information network on the enforcement of court judgments, participating in the construction of the credit system. Constructing mechanisms for supervising the enforcement of court judgments.  Pressing individuals who are subject to judgments to carry out their responsibilities.

20)    Reforming and perfecting jurisdiction to improve efficiency in the enforcement of judgments, reduce the cost of execution, eliminate interference, and ensure that the legal rights of parties are protected in a timely manner.

21)    Exploring new methods in enforcement.  Cooperating with relevant bureaus against individuals who fail to carry out their responsibilities under enforcement orders to take measures such as reporting on their property, compulsory audits, imposing limits on their ability to leave the country, and releasing lists of people subject to enforcement orders.

22)    Reforming and perfecting systems and procedures for trials for refusing to carry out court decisions, and increasing judicial penalties for failure to carry out valid decisions or obstructing their execution.

IV)     Reforming and Perfecting Trial Organs

23)    Reforming the system of court adjudication committees. The SPC will establish specialized criminal and civil/administrative committees.  HPCs and IPCs can establish criminal committees and civil/administrative committees according to need.  Reforming the composition of court adjudication committees, assuring that experienced, qualified judges can enter the adjudication committees.  Reforming the process and methods by which adjudication committees hear cases, changing from a system of meetings to one of hearings.  Reforming the voting mechanisms of adjudication committees, perfecting the work system of adjudication committees.

24)    Members of court adjudication committees can themselves organize or form panels to hear important, difficult, or complex cases, or those involving common questions of the applicability of law.

25)    Taking steps to strengthen the responsibility of court presidents, vice presidents, and heads of tribunals for trials. Clarifying their supervisory responsibilities for trials and their supervisory responsibilities for political affairs. Exploring the construction of new management systems, achieving centralization and specialization of the political affairs supervision within the judiciary.

26)    Constructing responsibility systems for judges to independently decide cases.  Strengthening trial responsibility for individual judges and judicial panels.  Court presidents, vice presidents, and heads of tribunals should participate in the hearing of cases.  Gradually implement responsibility systems for judicial panels and individual judges.

27)    Fully carrying out the NPC Standing Committee's "Decision on Perfecting the System of People's Assessors."  Perfecting the management system for people's assessors.  Formulating judicial interpretations to protect the ability of people's assessors to fairly exercise their power to try cases.  Fully bringing to play the functions of the people's assessors system.

28)    Reforming and perfecting the work mechanisms of people's tribunals.  Bringing into play systems for people’s tribunals to directly handle cases, engage in mediation, use simplified trial procedures, and enforce simple cases.  Deepening links between people's tribunals and society, strengthening the management of people's tribunals and guarantees for their physical and financial needs, improving the judicial expertise of people's tribunals.

V)    Reforming and Perfecting Judicial Systems for the Management of Trials and the Management of Political Affairs

29)    Strengthening trial management systems. Clarifying trial management responsibility. Developing management plans for trials of cases and the exercise of trial authority over related matters.  Improving management methods, constructing mechanisms to coordinate between trials, trial management, the management of political and judicial affairs, and judicial personnel management, and raising the quality and efficiency of trial work.

30)    Improving scientific processes of managing trials. Gradually working toward a model of courts at the same level implementing a unified case workflow process.  Perfecting a system of random case division, taking into consideration types of cases, their difficulty, and other factors.

31)    Implementing the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress' "Decision Regarding the Managing Expert Determination of Fact," reforming and perfecting the technical management work of the people's courts.  The Supreme People's Court, high people's courts, and intermediate people's courts may, according to law and need, bring into play their judicial auxiliary function by equipping themselves with legal medical experts and other judicial technical personnel.

32)    Reforming the system of judicial statistics, constructing a system of judicial statistical targets that can objectively and accurately reflect the judicial work circumstances of each level of the people's courts and can serve judicial management needs.  Expanding the extent of publicly available data, strengthening the analysis and use of statistical information.

33)    Reforming the methods of documenting trial proceedings. Strengthening the use of information technology in court documentation. Bringing into full play the function of trial documentation in the litigation process and management work.  Courts where conditions permit may utilize sound recordings, video recordings, or other technology to document trial proceedings.

VI)    Reforming and Perfecting the System of Judicial Personnel Management

34)    Promoting the separate management for different types of judicial personnel. Formulating management systems for judges, judicial clerks, secretaries, enforcement personnel, judicial police, judicial administrative personnel, judicial technical personnel, and others.  Strengthening the professionalization of judges and other personnel.  Constructing judicial job responsibilities in accordance with trial work and the nature of judicial work.  Using prior experience to steadily construct a system of judicial clerks.

35)    Carrying out the requirements of the Law on Judges, negotiating with relevant bureaus, promoting the construction of an employment system for judges.  Appropriately extending the retirement age for more experienced judges, while assuring the overall quality of judicial personnel.

36)    Studying the establishment of quotas for the numbers of judges in all courts, based on the level of the court, their jurisdictional area, the numbers of cases, and other factors.

37)     Reforming judicial selection procedures.  Constructing a selection mechanism that conforms to the nature of the judicial profession.  Exploring, within a given area, the implementation of a system to centrally recruit and assign judges to hold positions in basic people's courts.  Gradually implement the system of primarily selecting outstanding judges from lower people's courts and other outstanding legal personnel to serve as judges in higher people's courts.

38)     Strengthening exchanges between courts in different regions and between higher and lower people's courts, promoting systems of judicial exchange and rotating employment between similar departments within the people's courts.

39)     Constructing training systems for judges before they begin working and reforming the training system for judges currently serving.  New judges must take part in a state judicial institute or other commissioned training organization for professional training before they begin working.  Reforming the content, method, and management of judicial training, studying the development of training courses and curriculum suitable for the nature of judicial work, and reforming the method of selecting trainers for judicial training institutes.

40)     Implementing the Law on Judges, promoting appointments, promotions, rewards, welfare, and medical insurance suitable for judicial work, and improving the system of wages, benefits, and subsidies.  Gradually raise judicial compensation, after determining the quotas for judicial personnel.

VII) Reforming and Perfecting Systems of Internal and External Supervision for the People's Courts

41)     Establishing scientific and unified systems for evaluating trial quality and effectiveness.  Establishing scientific standards to evaluate judges and perfecting evaluation mechanisms, while protecting the ability of judges to try cases independently according to the law.

42)     Reforming evaluation systems for judges and other personnel in the people's courts, bringing into play the role of the committee for the examination and appraisal of judges.  Designing a scientific assessment method, perfecting assessment processes, unifying standards and procedures for the assessment of judicial achievements, all according to the characteristics of the judicial profession and the concrete needs of different posts.  Establishing an evaluation mechanism for other judicial personnel.

43)     Strengthen judicial disciplinary systems to conform to the characteristics of the judicial profession, establishing judicial disciplinary rules, standardize conditions for penalizing judges, procedures for trying cases, and the channels of relief.  Ensuring the legitimate rights of judges who are the subject of complaints or investigations by judges.

44)     Perfecting methods and procedures by which the people's courts consciously receive supervision from authorized organs. Strengthening the system of accepting criticism and recommendations of the people's congresses and the people's political consultative conferences. Perfecting systems such as that of attendance by members of the people's congresses and the people's political consultative conferences at court trials, and communication systems between the people's courts congresses, and political consultative conferences.

45)     Implementing systems by which the head procurator of the people's procuratorate or assistant procurators designated by him may participate in judicial adjudication committees in courts of the same rank.

46)     Standardizing relations between people's courts and the media, establishing new mechanisms that can both allow society to comprehensively understand the work of the courts and effectively protect the ability of the people's courts to try cases independently according to the law.  The people's courts shall perfect the system of news spokespersons, reporting in a timely manner on the people's courts' adjudication work and other work to society and the media, consciously accepting the people's mass supervision.

VIII)     Continuing Reform to the Court System

47)     Continuing to explore reform of court organization, management of human, financial, and material resources, in order to provide organizational and material safeguards for the independent exercise of judicial authority.

48)     Reforming and perfecting the system of guaranteed court finances. Exploring the establishment of providing for court work expenses through guaranteed national financing, and including courts within national and provincial financial systems. Studying the establishment of a guaranteed standard for the basic finances of basic people's courts.

49)     Coordinating with relevant authorities to reform court personnel, finances, and material resources currently managed by railway, forestry, oil, wasteland reclamation, mining departments, and enterprises.

50)     Perfecting the juvenile criminal system, civil cases involving the protection of the rights of minors, and administrative cases.  Launching experimental youth courts in large cities possessing the right conditions.  Adapting judicial work to the particular needs of minors, promoting the establishment of a juvenile judicial system for youth with Chinese characteristics.




1999年,最高人民法院根据党的十五大关于推进司法改革的要求,制定并发布了《人民法院五年改革纲要》,对1999-2003年全国法院的司法改 革作了统一部署。5年多来,全国各级人民法院以公正与效率为主题,以改革为动力,认真贯彻落实《人民法院五年改革纲要》,基本完成了各项改革任务,初步建 立了适合我国国情的审判方式,为司法公正提供了一定制度保障;基本理顺了我国的审判机构,完善了刑事、民事、行政三大审判体系,使法院组织制度更加合理 化;扩大了合议庭和独任法官的审判权限,为实现审与判的有机统一打下了基础;实施了法院执行工作新机制,在一定程度上缓解了执行难问题,并为深化体制改革 进行了有益的探索;确立了法官职业化建设的目标,合理配置司法人力资源,使人民法院的整体司法能力明显提高;加速了司法装备现代化建设,全国大部分法院的 基本建设和物质保障有了较大改善。
2002年,党的十六大提出了积极、稳妥地推进司法体制改革的要求,特别是2004年底,党中央对今后一段时期的司法体制和工作机制改革作了全面部署。目 前,相对滞后的司法体制和工作机制已经不能适应人民群众对司法公平正义日益增长的需求,人民法院的司法改革既面临着不可多得的历史机遇,又面临着多方面的 严峻挑战,而这些挑战为司法体制改革提出了更高的要求。为了贯彻落实党中央部署的司法体制和工作机制改革任务,进一步深化人民法院各项改革,完善人民法院 的组织制度和运行机制,增强司法能力,提高司法水平,保障在全社会实现公平和正义,现制定《人民法院第二个五年改革纲要(2004-2008)》。
2004年至2008年人民法院司法改革的基本任务和目标是:改革和完善诉讼程序制度,实现司法公正,提高司法效率,维护司法权威;改革和完善执行体制和 工作机制,健全执行机构,完善执行程序,优化执行环境,进一步解决“执行难”;改革和完善审判组织和审判机构,实现审与判的有机统一;改革和完善司法审判 管理和司法政务管理制度,为人民法院履行审判职责提供充分支持和服务;改革和完善司法人事管理制度,加强法官职业保障,推进法官职业化建设进程;改革和加 强人民法院内部监督和接受外部监督的各项制度,完善对审判权、执行权、管理权运行的监督机制,保持司法廉洁;不断推进人民法院体制和工作机制改革,建立符 合社会主义法治国家要求的现代司法制度。
推进人民法院司法改革,必须坚持以下基本原则:坚持党的领导,全面贯彻党的路线、方针、政策,从有利于巩固党的执政地位,提高党的执政能力的高度把握法院 司法改革的政治方向;坚持人民代表大会制度,自觉接受人民代表大会及其常务委员会的监督,保持我国司法制度的社会主义民主特征;坚持以宪法和法律为依据, 维护法制统一,保障人民法院依法独立行使审判权,维护司法权威;坚持公正司法、一心为民的指导方针,实现司法公正,方便群众诉讼,尊重和保障人权;坚持科 学发展观,遵循司法客观规律,体现审判工作的公开性、独立性、中立性、程序性、终局性等本质特征;坚持从中国的国情出发,借鉴国外司法改革的有益成果。
















14、改革和完善最高人民法院制定司法解释的程序,进一步提高司法解释的质量。最高人民法院对司法解释的立项、起草、审查、协调、公布、备案等事项实行统 一组织、统一协调,并定期对司法解释进行清理、修改、废止和编纂。规范最高人民法院将司法解释报送全国人民代表大会常务委员会备案的制度。




17、深化执行权运行机制改革。各级人民法院执行机构负责民事、行政案件判决裁定和其他法定执行依据的执行事项,以及刑事案件判决裁定中关于财产部分的执 行事项(含财产刑)。对执行过程中需要通过审理程序解决的实体争议事项,应当由执行机构以外的审判组织审理,必要时可以设立专门的审判机构。建立执行案件 当事人和案外人对于执行机构就重要程序事项所作决定申请复议等救济途径。







23、改革人民法院审判委员会制度。最高人民法院审判委员会设刑事专业委员会和民事行政专业委员会;高级人民法院、中级人民法院可以根据需要在审判 委员会中设刑事专业委员会和民事行政专业委员会。改革审判委员会的成员结构,确保高水平的资深法官能够进入审判委员会。改革审判委员会审理案件的程序和方 式,将审判委员会的活动由会议制改为审理制;改革审判委员会的表决机制;健全审判委员会的办事机构。













34、推进人民法院工作人员的分类管理,制定法官、法官助理、书记员、执行员、司法警察、司法行政人员、司法技术人员等分类管理办法,加强法官队伍 职业化建设和其他各类人员的专业化建设。建立符合审判工作规律和法官职业特点的法官职务序列。在总结试点经验的基础上,逐步建立法官助理制度。



















人民法院的司法改革是一个不断解放思想、更新观念和不断推动理论创新与制度创新的过程。为此,各级人民法院要按照本纲要的要求,深入研究和把握司法客观规 律,深刻理解和牢固树立现代司法理念,以改革的思维推进司法改革;要进一步加强组织领导工作,完善协调机制,健全相关制度,周密组织,妥善安排,认真落 实;要及时总结经验,加强理论指导,加强对具体改革方案的论证,把实现“公正与效率”这一主题作为检验改革效果的基本标准,确保改革顺利和健康发展;要坚 持依法改革,通过改革促进我国法律制度的不断发展与完善,切实防止自发改革和违法改革。为确保本纲要的正确、统一、有序实施,最高人民法院将就各项改革措 施制定具体的实施方案,自上而下,统一实施。各级人民法院要坚持以邓小平理论和“三个代表”重要思想为指导,树立和落实科学发展观,认真贯彻落实中央关于 司法体制改革的精神,正确理解本纲要确立的改革指导思想、基本原则、基本目标、主要任务和基本要求,狠抓落实,务求实效,不断将人民法院的司法改革工作和 其他各项工作稳步推向前进,为建设我国社会主义现代司法制度,构建社会主义和谐社会而努力奋斗。