Professor Zhu Jingwen Speaks at IU McKinney on Increasing Litigation in China


Professor Zhu JingwenOn November 21, 2013, Professor Zhu Jingwen delivered a lecture at the IU McKinney School of Law concerning transformations in the legal system of China since implementation of the reform and opening-up policy in the early 1980s.  The lecture, titled Behind More Litigation: A Data Analysis in China—Positive and Negative Impacts, detailed the rapid growth of litigation in China and analyzed its consequences.

Among the positive consequences, Professor Zhu identified the increased roles for lawyers in dispute resolution; increased importance of the legal system as a component of China’s economic, political, cultural, and social systems; and higher levels of education and professionalism among China’s lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.  On the other hand, Professor Zhu noted that increased litigation has led to a decreased role for the traditional dispute resolution by mediators and has placed significant burdens on China’s judges in the form of heavy case loads.

With regard to Chinese citizens’ confidence in their judicial system, Professor Zhu said the signals are mixed.  While the increase in the number of disputes taken to the formal judicial proceedings could indicate increased confidence, Professor Zhu identified contradictory indicators, including data about the number of citizen complaints about judicial proceedings; the number of unsupportive or negative evaluations of the Supreme People’s Court’s working reports by the National People’s Congress; and concerns about corruption.

To resolve these issues, Professor Zhu concludes that China should focus on two items.  First is reform of the courts’ “inner mechanism,” which includes inculcating values that give highest prominence to carrying out the law.  Second is a focus on a broader “structural mechanism of pluralistic law-enforcing.”  A pluralistic law enforcing structure “organically combine[s] judicial and administrative [organs] with non-governmental forces.”  For some disputes, reliance on the formal processes of governmental departments is appropriate, said Professor Zhu.  However, he added that for other disputes, it is appropriate to emphasize “the roles of NGOs, basic mass autonomous organizations, [and] industrial practice.”

Professor Zhu is visiting the IU McKinney School of Law in the fall semester.  He is Professor of Law at Renmin University of China Law School in Beijing, Director of the Center for Law and Globalization Studies, and Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers of Law in China, which is an English-language law journal dedicated to “provid[ing] a forum for global jurists and legal practitioners, who are interested in Chinese law and the legal issues on the reform of Chinese contemporary legal system.”

Professor Zhu’s visit is sponsored by IU McKinney School of Law’s Joint Center for Asian Law Studies, which is a partnership between IU McKinney and Renmin University of China Law School.  The Joint Center is directed by Professor Lloyd T. Wilson, Jr.

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