4.1.4 Guiding case system
Article 18 paragraph 2 of the Law on the Organization of the People’s Courts provides that “the Supreme People’s Court may publish guiding cases.” Cases that have a guiding effect on the judicial and enforcement work of Chinese courts are determined and released by the Supreme People’s Court, and the people’s courts at all levels refer to them when hearing similar cases. As of September 14, 2021, the Supreme People’s Court has issued 165 guiding cases in 29 batches, of which seven are related to patents.
Article 2 of the Provisions on Case Guidance Work48 stipulates that the guiding cases are those that have legally effective judgments and:
- are of widespread concern to society;
- involve legal provisions that are relatively general;
- are typical;
- are difficult, complicated or of a new type; or
- have a guiding effect.
According to Articles 9–11 of the Rules for the Implementation of the Provisions on Case Guidance,49 the application of guiding cases by reference involves the following aspects:
- At all levels, in trials of cases that are similar to the guiding cases issued by the Supreme People’s Court in terms of basic facts and the application of the law, the courts shall make decisions by reference to the rules of the decision in the applicable guiding cases.
- In dealing with cases, judges shall inquire about applicable guiding cases. Where any applicable guiding case is cited in the decision, the number of the guiding case and the main points of the decision shall be outlined in the reasoning for the decision section.
- If the public prosecution, the parties to the case and their defenders and litigants cite a guiding case as a reason, the judge shall respond in the reasons for the judgment whether the guiding case has been referred to and explain the reasons for the same.
- Guiding cases shall be cited as reasons for a decision but not as the basis for the decision.