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New Law makes it easier to sue gov't

Xinhua, November 2, 2014 Adjust font size:

China's top legislature yesterday adopted an amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law, which is designed to make it easier for people to sue the government.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the amendment, saying it is in line with the reality of administrative litigation.

Courts will launch administrative proceedings if the government is sued for violating agreements on land and housing compensation or commercial operations franchised by the government, according to the amendment.

Courts must order authorities to follow contracts or pay compensation if they are confirmed to have violated such an agreement, it said. Even if authorities have a legitimate reason for terminating a contract, they should offer compensation, it said, without detailing how such payouts will be calculated.

Also under the revision, defendants -- the representatives of the administrations concerned -- must appear before the court in person. Those who refuse to do so without providing a legitimate reason or who leave the court during the trial without approval could face additional punishment.

Currently, most defendants ask lawyers or colleagues to represent them in court.

'Having them appear in court will also promote officials’ awareness of the rule of law," said Professor Jiang Ming'an of Peking University.

Participants in lawsuits, including government staff, will be fined or detained if they “force” a plaintiff to withdraw the suit through illegal means such as threats or fraud.

The revision also includes stipulations that more rights infringement cases will be accepted by courts and actionable cases will no longer be confined to "specific administrative acts," which in practice is an excuse for courts to throw out cases.

According to a survey conducted by Xiu Fujin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, only 35 percent of cases filed against government agencies were accepted by courts in 2012.

Bai Zhijian, an NPC Standing Committee member, said the revised law will better protect the rights and interests of citizens, and other organizations and ensure administration by law.

The revised law will take effect on May 1, 2015.

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