Washington International Law Journal


Paul J. Schmidt


On December 21, 2001, China's Supreme People's Court promulgated landmark rules concerning the production and use of evidence in civil cases. These rules became effective on April 1, 2002 and apply to legal actions initiated after that date. The rules apply in all Chinese courts, from the high and intermediate level courts found at the provincial and prefecture level, down to the basic level courts found in rural counties and in urban districts. Of the eighty-three newly promulgated rules, more than half concern procedures for exchanging, confronting, investigating, or discovering evidence. Eleven are strict rules of evidence. The remainder is comprised of decision guidelines, implementation provisions, or some other type of rule. Despite the guidelines' occasionally remedial tone, Chinese practitioners will want to memorize these rules and use the language found within them during their debates and summaries to the court. The new strict rules of evidence provide litigators with direction, while at the same time providing new avenues for courtroom strategy. The rules require Chinese lawyers to focus not only on how they will present evidence but also on how such evidence may be excluded and how they might work to exclude an opponent's evidence. The new rules of evidence are a welcome new addition to Chinese jurisprudence.

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