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The Development of Public Interest Litigation in China


This paper studies the reception and development of public interest litigation in China. In this paper, public interest litigation (PIL) is defined broadly to include a judicial process, including court-based mediation and adjudication, in which grievances of a general nature, normally in relation to social and economic rights, are litigated in pursuit of legal remedies against government departments, public authorities, and monopoly enterprises. Since its reception in China in the middle of the 1990s, PIL has become more institutionalized. This paper identifies five changes in PIL in China: 1) from spontaneous action to institutionalization; 2) from passivity to aggressive defence; 3) from litigation to networking; 4) from using law as shield to using law as sword; and 5) from case handling to policy changes. Lawyers have become more demanding, aggressive and challenging and the current pushback by the government in restricting aggressive public interest lawyering is, in part, a response to the growth of PIL in China in the past 20 years.
本文作者:傅华伶、Richard Cullen,香港大学法律学院
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