Towards Judicial Transparency in China: The New Public Access Database for Court Decisions
China Information, Vol. 32, 2018, 3-22
34 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2017 Last revised: 7 Jun 2018
Date Written: February 25, 2017
Since 2013 judicial reforms in China have intensified. Whereas recent studies of the Chinese judiciary have focused on structural reforms concerning the jurisdiction of courts and internal court management, it has been largely gone unnoticed that the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has established an open access database for archiving court decisions of every court throughout China. On the basis of legal documents, secondary literature and expert interviews this study investigates the implications of the new database. We find that the database establishes new channels of communication that affect the relation between the courts and the public and the position of judges within the judiciary. Further, the open access database facilitates changes in the structure of communication among legal experts, which in turn promotes legal professionalism. We argue that the SPC made use of the party policy on the direct accountability of the courts towards the people in order to pursue its self-interest of developing a professional judiciary.
Keywords: Chinese Judicial Reforms, Supreme People's Court, Court Decision Database
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