Administrative Litigation Law

Administrative Litigation Law
Law in China has traditionally been viewed as a tool for carrying out the will of the rulers, not as a vehicle for the exercise of citizen control over them, and this view remained dominant in the first three decades of the People’s Republic. Rules about the functioning of government were a method of top-down control designed to ensure that officials carried out their assigned tasks. Citizens with complaints about an official’s behaviour could only make complaints to that official’s superiors through an informal ‘letters and visits’ system, and had no legal right to relief.
During the first decade of the post-Mao reform era, however, the idea grew that bottom-up supervision also had a role to play, and that citizens aggrieved by bureaucratic arbitrariness and lawlessness ought to have a law-based avenue of relief. A number of laws and regulations passed in the 1980s made specific provision for the appeal to the courts of various decisions by government bodies.
Finally, 1989 saw the passage of the Administrative Litigation Law (ALL), which provides that administrative decisions may be appealed to courts except where the law specifically states otherwise. While the ALL permits challenges to the application of specific rules and regulations, it does not in general allow challenges to the propriety or lawfulness of the rules themselves.
While complainants prevail at least in part in over 40 per cent of cases, the overall impact of the ALL on official behaviour is difficult to measure. On the one hand, the number of administrative litigation cases brought to courts has risen steadily from 13,000 in 1990 to 86,000 in 2000. On the other hand, these numbers are still quite small relative both to overall court caseloads and to the number of challengeable administrative acts.
Peerenboom, R. (2002). China’s Long March Toward Rule of Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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