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July 13, 2014

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City’s judicial system to be reformed

THE number of prosecutors and judges in Shanghai is to be increased in an effort to improve the efficiency of the city’s judicial system.

The move is one of a series of reforms included in a pilot scheme developed by the central government, which will be launched in Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Jilin, Hubei, Qinghai and Hainan.

Employing more judges and attorneys is part of a wider restructuring of the personnel system within the judiciary, the Shanghai Political and Law Commission told a press conference yesterday.

On completion, judges will account for 33 percent of all staff, with prosecutors at 52 percent, and administration and support workers making up the remainder.

Though officials declined to give the current ratios, it was implied there is a surfeit of administration staff and too few legal professionals.

Having more prosecutors and judges will enable the judiciary to better handle the rising numbers of both civil and criminal cases, the commission said.

A second major change involves the development of a tailored salary system for the judiciary.

Judges and prosecutors are remunerated under the same scheme as other civil servants.

Under the new scheme they will be paid according to their qualifications and experience, while an independent system will be introduced for support staff.

Judges and prosecutors will also be ranked according to their seniority — with “chief” positions created for each discipline — so as to ensure greater clarity in the allocation of cases and the decision-making process.

They will also be allowed to work longer under the new system, the commission said.

Women will have the option to continue working until 60, up from 55 at present, and men until 63, up from 60.

Another change will see the establishment of a unified, provincial-level management system for judges and prosecutors, which will handle promotions and punishment.

Also, the financial accounts of district courts and procuratorates will be incorporated into the city-level fiscal management system in a bid to enhance oversight and transparency, the commission said.

Eight judicial units, including the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, the Shanghai People’s Procuratorate No. 2 Branch, and others in Xuhui, Baoshan and Minhang districts, will be the first to adopt the reforms, officials said.

The scheme will be rolled out to all courts and procuratorates in the city in the first quarter of next year, and is expected to be fully implemented within three to five years.

Shanghai Party Secretary Han Zheng said recently that the city must seek to develop a judicial system that can be copied and promoted nationwide.

Jiang Ping, the city’s deputy mayor, said yesterday that the pilot scheme will be implemented in line with the agreed timetable.

Similar reforms will also be considered for the city’s police department, he said.

“Whatever reforms are introduced, their ultimate goal must be improving the credibility of the judicial system,” said Tang Xiaotian, deputy secretary of the Shanghai Law Society.

“It is essential that the system not only wins the public’s confidence but also is perceived as being fair,” he said.



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