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China: Supreme People’s Court Issues Ten More Guiding Cases

(Apr. 5, 2017) On March 6, 2017, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) issued the sixteenth batch of guiding cases.  Full-text copies of the ten new guiding cases (case numbers 78–87) are now available on the SPC official website.  (Zhidao Anli [Guiding Cases], SPC website (last visited Mar. 24, 2017).)

The SPC started issuing guiding cases in 2011, and thus far has designated 87 cases as guiding ones.  (Id.)  Although issued by the SPC, the guiding cases are selected from courts throughout the country.  (Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court Concerning Work on Case Guidance (Nov. 26, 2010) (Guiding Case Provisions), art. 1, Stanford Law School China Guiding Cases Project website.)  Although the PRC legal system mainly follows the civil law tradition and court judgments do not formally constitute binding precedents, according to the Guiding Case Provisions Chinese courts at all levels “must refer to” the guiding cases “when adjudicating similar cases.”  (Id. art. 7.)

In 2015, the SPC issued a set of implementing rules of the Guiding Case Provisions, providing more details on the application of the guiding cases.  (Detailed Implementing Rules on the “Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court Concerning Work on Case Guidance” (May 13, 2015), Stanford Law School China Guiding Cases Project website.)  According to the 2015 rules, when a court refers to a guiding case in adjudicating a similar case, the court should quote the guiding case as a contributing reason for its decision, but not cite it as the basis of its decision.  (Id. art. 10.)