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China compels gov't officials to attend court in key administrative lawsuits

Xinhua, August 17, 2016 Adjust font size:

China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) released a circular on Tuesday making it mandatory for relevant officials of government bodies to personally appear in court when there are trials involving major administrative disputes.

The stipulation applies to administrative cases that affect the public interest, are under huge public scrutiny, and are likely to induce mass incidents. Courts should also issue notices to recommend officials' appearance in other cases, the circular said.

"Officials who should appear in court include principals of a government department as a defendant as well as other officials in charge of the specific areas concerned in the case," it said.

According to the SPC, those who cannot attend should designate other government staff to appear on their behalf. They should not have lawyers as their sole representatives in court.

The circular also banned courts from refusing or delaying such lawsuits, stating that principals of the courts caught doing so will be disciplined and punished.

"Resolute efforts should be made to deter any illegal act to interfere in and obstruct a court's handling of an administrative case," the circular said, urging courts to keep a clear record of government officials attempting to influence case management and outcomes for future liability.