Roundtable Discussion explores judicial and legislative interpretation in China

Kathy Chan and Grace Ho



The Interpretation of Laws, a topical issue since the reunification of Hong Kong with China, was the subject of a Roundtable Discussion on 21 June in the School of Law (SLW) at City University of Hong Kong.  




Presenting on Judicial and Legislative Interpretation in China were invited speakers from the National Judges College in Beijing: Professor Guan Yu Ying and Dr Wu Zhao Xiang.  Chaired by Dr Priscilla Leung, Associate Dean (External Affairs) of the SLW, the event attracted some 30 participants from law firms and associations as well as teachers, staff and undergraduate and post-graduate students from the University.




The speakers gave an overview of the history and perspective of the power of Legislative Interpretation of Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) and the power of judicial interpretation of the Supreme Court (SC) as well as the importance of precedent cases in the judgement of Chinese courts. 




Professor Guan stated that the allocation of interpretation power reflects the political system.  The National People's Congress is the basic political mechanism of China and NPCSC is the only institution which is entitled to the power of law interpretation.  She said legislative interpretation was a useful tool for remedying the defects of legislation, reflecting the change in social needs, and it was crucial to the stability of society and the application of the law.  Legislative interpretation did not exclude judicial interpretation, and legislative interpretation would be strengthened in the future, she added.




Dr Wu said that judicial interpretation was essential given the background of the development of the legal system in China.  Judicial interpretation by the Supreme Court has its practical value, providing useful guidelines for local courts.  It is an effective means of maintaining the consistency of law application and the fairness of the system.  Dr Wu said that the SC had been stepping up its efforts in formalising the judicial interpretation practice and focussing its research on the establishment of a precedent cases system in China.  Potentially, this system will be considered as a form of judicial interpretation, a major development for the judicial system in China.




A number of topics of public concern were raised during the roundtable discussion, including the relationship between legislative and judicial interpretation, the improvement in the quality of legislation through judicial interpretation, the legal power of precedent cases and its impact of legal education in the future.  The discussion concluded in a positive and sincere manner with the group looking forward to the continued development of the legal system in China.




Launched in December 2004, the Roundtable Discussions serve as a forum in which academics, practitioners and public policy specialists from a variety of disciplines including law, economics, political science, public administration, and sociology can come together to discuss issues affecting society at large, providing a channel for promoting multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.  The Series maximises the intellectual the capital of the School and

helps CityU continue to develop as a leading contributor to the community as well as to a greater body of knowledge in general.




Dr Pricilla Leung said: "CityU Law School's forte is to focus on Chinese and Comparative Law and all areas of commercial law.  We are trying to develop and strengthen our connections with Mainland China, which is an integral part of our teaching and research work."



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Communications and Institutional Research Office

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