China is moving to enhance coordination between prosecutors and administrative agencies in public interest litigation cases involving environmental issues.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), the Ministry of Ecology and Environment as well as eight other government agencies made public a guideline on January 22, urging better cooperation in evidence transfer, case filing jurisdiction, evidence collection, judicial expertise, pre-litigation procedure, lawsuit filing, daily contact and personnel exchanges.
Many ecological and environmental cases involve various interested parties, and are complicated and time-consuming.
In such litigation, procuratorates face difficulties including a shortage of judicial appraisal institutions for environmental damage, barriers in information sharing and trans-regional investigations, and disagreements on law enforcement standards.
The new guideline establishes a mechanism for evidence transfer, consultation, judgment and information sharing and will allow steps taken to gradually realize the real-time sharing of environment protection information, according to an SPP statement.
Meanwhile, the government will explore ways to include the appraisal fees on environmental damage into the government financial support package.
In consultation with appraisal institutions, the SPP will explore the possibility of not paying the appraisal fee in advance when the procuratorial organ files a public interest lawsuit for ecological and environmental damage, with the losing party bearing the cost after a court verdict.
"The document will help to form a 'combined fist' of ecological and environmental protection between procuratorial and administrative organs by giving full play to their respective functional advantages," said Hu Weilie with the SPP.
China's top legislature passed the revised civil and administrative procedure laws in June 2017 to allow prosecutors nationwide to institute public interest litigation.
The reform aims to better protect the interests of the nation and the public, especially in protection of the environment and resources, and food safety among others.
Procuratorates instituted 89,523 public interest litigation cases and filed 2,560 such cases to courts from January to November in 2018.