China: Insight into China’s Revision on Civil Procedure Law

Last Updated: 21 October 2012
Article by Ariel Ye


On 31 August 2012 a revision of the PRC Civil Procedure Law (the "CPL") was adopted and is scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2013. This is the third revision of the CPL to be adopted and affects 85 articles, which cover a wide range of matters including case filing, evidence and enforcement procedure. Several new procedures have also been added which cover public interest litigation, small claims litigation, mediation agreements and other topics.

Background and Policy Objectives

The National People's Congress Committee on Law commenced revision of the CPL in 2010. The current revision of the CPL aims to address concerns raised by the legal profession about court efficiency, the rights of litigants, clarity of the rules of evidence and adjudication supervision in civil proceedings.

The key policy objectives of the amendments are to: (a) providing justice while guaranteeing efficiency, and in particular avoiding prolonged civil procedure and "late justice"; (b) insuring the efficient use of judicial resources while upholding the parties' litigation rights; and (c) reinforcing the courts' independence on the one hand while strengthening the process of adjudication supervision by the procuratorate.

Improving efficiency of civil procedure

  1. Pre-filing mediation. Article 122 of the CPL requires the parties to first attempt mediation before filing a claim. In practice, this means that courts will now take steps to facilitate pre-filing mediation. Such mediation is subject to the consent of the parties, so by facilitating mediation, the court will not be interfering with the parties' right to commence litigation.
  2. Judicial confirmation on mediation agreement. Article 194 of the CPL permits parties to apply for judicial confirmation of a mediation agreement within 30 days of the agreement taking effect and Article 195 of the CPL provides that a court-confirmed mediation agreement is enforceable.
  3. Small-claims litigation. Article 162 of the revised law establishes that in a simple civil trial (as defined in paragraph 1 of article 157 of the revised law) if the amount claimed is below thirty percent of the average annual salary of urban employees the ruling at the first instance shall be final. This is designed to increase the efficiency of the court's handling of small claims and to free court resources.
  4. Expanding the coverage of summary procedure. Article 157 of the CPL allows disputing parties to choose summary procedure by mutual consent in cases tried by basic-level court, unless the court considers it inappropriate. Previously the court alone could determine whether summary procedure should apply.

Strengthening litigants' rights

  1. Public interests litigation. Article 55 of the CPL provides that: "relevant organs and organizations prescribed by law may initiate lawsuit at competent courts against conducts jeopardizing the public interests, such as causing environment pollution or damaging the interests of a large number of consumers." This is the first time that Chinese law has recognized public interest litigation. The article creates only two causes of action. The parties eligible to commence public interest litigation are also limited to those organs and organizations prescribed by law, which excludes natural persons.
  2. Possible appeal against the court's decision not to accept the filing of a lawsuit. According to Article 123 of the CPL, the court must now issue a written ruling within 7 days if it declines to accept the filing of a case. The ruling is subject to appeal by the party concerned. Previously, the court had no obligation to deliver a written ruling in such cases, and the party affected had difficulties to appeal without the court's written ruling even if the court's decision was unfair.
  3. Pre-litigation preservation measures. Chapter 9 of the CPL adopts pre-lawsuit injunction. Previously, pre-litigation injunctions were only available for the preservation of property. The CPL now enables the court to order specific performance or to enjoin misconduct by a party prior to the commencement of litigation.
  4. Intervention by third parties. Malicious or artificial lawsuits may damage a third party's interests from time to time. A typical example is where a debtor procures a friend to sue against his property, so as to avoid enforcement by a genuine creditor. Harmed third parties could not previously resort to cancellation of such lawsuit under the old regime. Paragraph 3 of Article 56 allows "third parties with or without an independent claim to the disputed object" to sue for cancellation of a court judgment, ruling or mediation which harms its lawful interests. This kind of suit must be brought within 6 months upon the party becoming aware of the harm, and must show proof of error in the court's decision.
  5. Public disclosure of judgment and ruling. The CPL now obliges courts to make legally effective judgments and rulings publicly available except for those involving state secrets, trade secrets or personal privacy. This is intended to improve public supervision of the court's practice as well as facilitating legal practitioners' access to jurisprudence.

Rules relating to evidence

  1. Time period for producing evidence. Article 65 of the CPL clarifies the time period for producing evidence. Previously the CPL was ambiguous about who shall determine the period for producing evidence and whether the court may accept late evidence. The lack of clarity under the old CPL was criticized because it led to inconsistent court practices and caused confusion. The CPL now explicitly provides that the time period for producing evidence shall be determined by the court according to the specific circumstances of the case. The court now has discretion to reject late evidence and the party submitting late evidence must provide justification for doing so. The court may also accept late evidence if it is significant but impose a penalty on the party submitting late evidence.
  2. Formalities applicable to the court's acceptance of evidence. Under the CPL, the court is obliged to issue a receipt when receiving evidence which must state the name, number of pages, whether the evidence is original or duplicate and the date of receipt. Such receipt must be signed by court personnel and stamped by the responsible office of the court.
  3. Witness's presence at trial. The CPL states the circumstances in which a witness may testify through written testimony or via audio or video transmission without physically attending the trial. Health, geographical distance, inconvenience of travel and natural disaster are examples of adequate reasons under the CPL. A witness may be absent from the trial only with the court's permission. The CPL also clearly requires the losing party to bear all of a witness's expenses for attending the trial. These rules encourage witnesses to testify in person and are aimed at reinforcing the court's ability to execute its fact-finding mission.
  4. Rights to initiate authentication. Under the old CPL only the court may decide to use expert authentication. The CPL now allows the parties to apply for and jointly appoint qualified experts to carry out the authentication. In addition, pursuant to Article 78, the expert must appear in court and testify if the court considers his testimony necessary or if the other party questions his authentication. Under such circumstances, the expert's authentication will be rejected if he fails to present at trial.

Strengthening adjudication supervision

  1. Expanding the scope of supervision. The old CPL was silent on whether the procuratorate may supervise the court's enforcement and mediation. The CPL now provides that the procuratorate has the authority to supervise the court's civil enforcement. In the meantime, the procuratorate may also lodge an objection against the court's mediation of a case if it damages the national or public interests.
  2. Expanding supervision mechanism. The new CPL also provides that a procuratorate may, if it discovers that any effective judgment, ruling or mediation statement of the court is false, recommend a court at the same level to retry a case.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions