A Short Guide on Courts in China

A Short Guide on Courts in China

Updated on Wednesday 19th July 2017

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The legal system in China is based on civil law and resembles the German and French legal systems. The court system in China can exercise judicial power independently, but the Chinese Constitution also emphasizes the leadership of the Communist Party. The judicial branch is one of the three branches of the government, along with the executive and legislative branches. The court system in China has four levels. Hong Kong and Macau have separate court systems. Our lawyers in China can tell you more about specific legal matters in China that concern international businesses.

The court structure in China 

The division of the court system in China is set forth in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Organic Law of the People’s Courts. The four-level court system contains:
- the Supreme People’s Court supervises the administration of justice by all other courts and it is the court of last resort;
- the local people’s courts or the courts of the first instance handle criminal and civil cases and they are located at a provincial level, in autonomous regions, and in special municipalities; the intermediate people’s courts are located at the prefectures, autonomous prefectures, and municipality levels;
- the courts of special jurisdiction are the Military Court of China, the Railway Transport Court of China and the Maritime Court of China.
Operating parallel to the courts in China, there are the people’s procurators. They are defined by law as state organs for legal supervision. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate is the highest prosecutorial agency in China. Procuratorates investigate cases in order to determine if a suspect should be arrested or not. They have an important role in the public prosecution and oversee other legal activities.
Our attorneys in China can help you if you want to take legal action regarding a certain matter and you are unsure what court to address. We can also help you with legal representation.

The Supreme People’s Court in China

The highest court in the mainland area of China is the Supreme People’s Court and it is based on the common law in the United Kingdom and the civil law in Portugal. There are more than 300 magistrates who deal with varied cases in small tribunal courts in the country.  The interesting part about the Supreme People’s Court in China is related to the death penalty approval the country reintroduced in 2005, but the same court rejected around 15% of the cases where smaller courts imposed the death verdicts. The Supreme People’s Court in China deals with civil, criminal, administrative, and economic cases.

The Local People’s Court in China

The Local People’s Court in China comprises three important courts: high people’s court, intermediate people’s court and basic people’s court. This important court deals with criminal and civil cases in China, at a local level, and it was used to condemn the property-owners way back in the 40’s and 50’s. 

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate in China

The investigation and the prosecution of criminal and civil cases in China are made through the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, previous known as the Procuratorial Office in China and part of the Supreme Court of the Republic of China. 

Litigation in China

In China, the litigations are generally assessed within one appeal. The intermediate people’s courts are the courts of the first instance for dealing with cases involving foreign parties, criminal cases, cases where foreigners have committed crimes. Our litigation lawyers in China can evaluate your case if you are considering to take legal action against a business or a natural person.
Our Chinese law firm offers a wide range of legal services for businesses and individuals. You can contact our law firm in China if you need any legal assistance while doing business there.


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