BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- President Hu Jintao Friday issued an order to publicize an amendment to the Civil Procedure Law after China's legislature approved it following a third reading.
Set to take effect from Jan. 1, 2013, the amended Civil Procedure Law is believed to further streamline the way civil disputes are dealt with and promote social stability and harmony.
According to the amendment, agencies or organizations determined by law can bring litigation against those whose acts undermine public welfare by polluting or infringing on consumers' interests. This is an addition that many experts believe signals a major step forward in creating a public interest litigation system in China.
It stipulates that judges should not accept gifts or treatment from any interested parties or their attorneys.
If interested parties collude with each other for the purpose of undermining others' legitimate rights and interests through litigation or mediation, courts may deny their efforts and punish them.
The amendment also highlights a new arrangement to allow small claims for debts or damage to be handled more efficiently.
Courts at county level will be given permission to make a final judgment for first instance trials concerning civil claims for an amount of money equivalent to 30 percent of the average annual salary in the province where the case takes place.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the average yearly wage of urban Chinese in 2011 was 41,799 yuan. And 30 percent of that figure is around 12,000 yuan (1,887 U.S. dollars).
China is striving to achieve a balance between justice and efficiency, as civil claims have been in a court system unequipped to deal with the surging number of cases, resulting in a large number of unresolved disputes.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, passed the amendment via a vote by lawmakers Friday morning, when it concluded a bimonthly session that started on Monday.
The draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law was first tabled for discussion at a bimonthly session of the legislature October last year, followed by a second reading in April this year.