Further Information On PRC Supreme Court Database

Yesterday we reported on a post highlighting the new public database  of the Supreme People’s Court in China..

The post which initially turned up on the China Law Discussion list has now been turned into a useful and detailed post at the China Law Profs Blog and well worth a read for any legal sinophile

Here’s what they say

China establishes public database of judgment debtors

Full article at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/china_law_prof_blog/2009/04/homicide-and-selfdefense.html

Here’s a very interesting development: on March 30, 2009, the Supreme People’s Court opened to public use a web-based database of all judgment debtors in all courts in the country (except military courts). When I say "judgment debtor" (the Chinese term is 被执行人, perhaps most directly translated as "executee"), I mean defendants who have had executable judgments rendered against them and have not yet complied, regardless of whether there is money involved; it may be they are required to do some act, not just to pay money. Since the purpose of this database is apparently to increase compliance, I am assuming without actually knowing that judgment debtors are removed from the list once they comply. The list includes all judgment debtors in new cases starting in 2007 and in cases begun before then where there is an unexecuted judgment. According to an article in Caijing, the database now has over 6 million cases.

Information is supposed to be posted to the web site by the court in charge of execution of the judgment. The database may be searched by party name, identity card number (if a person), or organization code (if an organization). I was surprised to read in the Caijing article that apparently courts have not in the past always required parties to provide their identity card numbers to the court, so this information is not always available. Although you can search by identity card number, the information displayed once you find someone omits the last four digits from the card number in order to preserve the party’s privacy. (This seems like a good idea.)
If a party has an objection to the content, it may file an objection under a specific set of rules.

The database serves two purposes. First, it is intended to put pressure on defendants to perform judgments. This might function through a kind of public shaming, although it’s not very public. More effecitve, I think, is the way this database can function as a check on the trustworthiness of potential business partners. If judgment-scoffers routinely find that nobody wants to do further business with them, they will have an incentive to comply.