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Overview

Mei Gechlik, president of good governance international

The China Guiding Cases Project (CGCP) is a groundbreaking initiative of Stanford Law School.  It aims to advance knowledge and understanding of Chinese law and to enable judges and legal experts both inside and outside of China to contribute to the evolution of Chinese case law through ongoing dialogue on “guiding cases” (指导性案例) released by China’s Supreme People’s Court.

On November 26, 2010, the Supreme People’s Court made a significant change in the Chinese legal system by adopting a rule creating a procedure to recognize a body of “guiding cases.”  Although formally the new rule states only that courts at all levels in China “should refer to” (应当参照) guiding cases released by the Supreme People’s Court, senior judges of the highest court have observed that they expect these cases to be followed and that, if they are not, there may be serious repercussions.  Such comments, together with the fact that guiding cases are selected by the adjudication committee of the Supreme People’s Court (the members of which include the president, vice presidents, and chief judges of different chambers in the court), make clear that these cases carry far more weight than the phrase “should refer to” would otherwise suggest.  While not formally constituting binding precedents in the Western sense, the guiding cases may evolve to have a similar effect.

The CGCP intends to make these cases quickly and easily accessible to English-speaking audiences outside China.  The CGCP team translates these opinions into English and posts them on the site http://cgc.law.stanford.edu.  Legal experts from around the world are invited to submit commentaries discussing the legal and other implications of these cases.  Commentaries are posted in Chinese and in English, and are available in translation.  Readers of the website may post their thoughts about the cases and commentaries in Chinese and English.  “Question and Answer” sessions on the site permit readers and commentators to have more in-depth dialogues, again in Chinese and English.  The website also includes a search function enabling practitioners and researchers to look for specific “guiding cases.”