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China: Law of Civil Procedure Amended

(Nov. 2, 2007) On October 28, 2007, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed amendments to China's Law of Civil Procedure, the first revision of the law since its adoption in 1991. Two of the key changes are to facilitate applications for a retrial and to increase the effectiveness of execution of judgments. In regard to the former, the number of circumstances in which a retrial should be held has been nearly tripled, to include, for example, situations where the substantive evidence for determination of the facts of the original judgment or order was false or not cross-examined, where there was a mistake of competency, or where there was a failure by a judge to recuse himself when there should have been a recusal. Moreover, the retrial application is to be made to the court at the next higher level; the option of submitting it to the original court has been eliminated, thereby "removing the possibility that the court may be reluctant to order a retrial" (Ng Tze-Wei, Urban and Rural Planning Law Passed, Hong Kong SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, Oct. 19, 2007, Open Source Center No. CPP20071029775018.)

Regarding execution of judgments, the revised Law newly prescribes that in cases where a person subject to execution of judgment has not fulfilled the obligations specified in the relevant legal document and there is the possibility of his concealing or transferring assets, the execution officer may immediately adopt compulsory execution measures. It further provides that such a person is to report his or her asset flow, current and for the year prior to the date of reception of an execution notification. Refusal to report or false reporting may result in a court-ordered fine or detention for that individual, his agent, or the person in charge or the directly responsible personnel of the unit concerned. The court may also adopt lawfully stipulated measures such as restricting the person from leaving the country or making information about the person's non-fulfillment of obligations public.

Among other changes, the maximum amount of fines imposed under the Law has been increased ten-fold, from 1,000 yuan to 10,000 (about US$1,340) for individuals and from 30,000 yuan to 300,000 (about US$40,200) for work units. In addition, the former chapter 19, on procedures for debt repayment pursuant to enterprise bankruptcy, has been deleted. The Law will enter into effect on April 1, 2008. ((Shouquan fabu) Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui Changwu Weiyuanhui guanyu xiugai <Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo minshi susong fa> de jueding [(Authorized for Issuance) Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Revising the Law of Civil Procedure of the People's Republic of China], XINHUANET, Oct. 28, 2007; Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo minshi susong fa (quan wen), CHINA.COM.CN, Oct. 29, 2007 [provides the Decision as well as the complete revised text]; Ng Tze-Wei, id.)