Litigation

In China, the judicial interpretation is referred to the interpretations, made by the national supreme judicial authorities on questions relating to specific application of laws in their judicial practices according to the authorization of the NPC. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, by virtue of the relevant decrees adopted by the NPC, both hold the power of formulating the judicial interpretation.

The judicial interpretation has a long history in China, dating back to 1954, shortly after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the judicial interpretation appeared along with the rapid progress in the fields of economic construction and national legislation after the first Constitution was promulgated. It is urgent for national supreme judicial authorities to strengthen the interpretative work on the application of law in order to cope with the problems that arise in handling cases. The Standing Committee of the NPC passed, for this reason, the Decision on Interpretation of Law in 1955 which provided that those questions connected with specific application of laws and decrees should be interpreted by the Supreme People's Court. Thus the supreme judicial organ, for the first time, was formally conferred with the power of enacting judicial interpretation by the highest organ of state power from that time forward.  This power was also confirmed by the legislation afterwards, such as the Organic Law of People's Court of the People's Republic of China in 1979. Furthermore, the Standing Committee of the 5th NPC at its 19th session adopted a resolution on improvement of explanation work of the law providing that:

"Where an interpretation of questions involving the specific application of laws and decrees in court trials shall be provided by the Supreme People's Court and; where an interpretation of problems concerning the concrete application of laws and decrees in procuratorial practices shall be prescribed by the Supreme People's Porcuratorate. If there is any difference in principle between them, it should be delivered to the Standing Committee of NPC for interpretation or decision."

This Resolution stresses not only the power of judicial interpretation of the Supreme People's Court but also bestows on the Supreme People's Porcuratorate the same power. Thus the judicial interpretation has, as an important legal system, appeared in China and has been considered as a formal source of law. There have been recorded, according to judicial statistical data, about 4,000 judicial interpretations by the Supreme People's Court alone or jointly with the Supreme People's Porcuratorate from 1949 to 2000.

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