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1.18.2012

"Guiding Cases" in China

The Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China has begun the practice of announcing "guiding cases." These are cases that, as explained here, "provide guidance to people's courts in hearing similar cases and handing down judgments, and reference shall be made by judges in hearing similar cases and cited as the basis for reasoning in judgments."

This appears to be quite a significant development. Professor Wu Shuchen of Shandong University describes it this way: "The effect of the Guiding Cases system is as follows: first, it significantly limits the discretionary power of judges and effectively avoids the defect of different verdicts for similar cases; second, it significantly reduces the uncertainty and unpredictability of the law."

Stanford Law School has recently created the China Guiding Cases Project to catalogue the guiding cases, to provide commentary and legal analysis on those cases, and generally to follow these and other fascinating developments in the Chinese legal system.

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