Public interest lawsuits: spring for environmental protection

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The Supreme People’s Court published an «Interpretation of issues related to the laws applicable to an environmental civil litigation case hearing» (hereafter: «Interpretation»). The Interpretation allows more public interest organizations to participate in environmental public interest lawsuits. Before the revision of the «Environmental Law», only the All-China Environment Federation was allowed to file environmental lawsuits. Now “every community organization, private non enterprise unit, foundation, etc. registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs at the city level and above” can participate in a lawsuit. Experts say that “etc.”, is a big addition to the previous statement. In fact, “etc.” opens up a lot of possibilities for all kinds of organizations.

To allow more and more NGOs to participate in civil lawsuits is a big judicial step, and a productive stage can start for NGOs devoted to environmental protection. Moreover, the Interpretation also improves judicial procedures, so that environmental civil lawsuits wouldn’t incur in local interferences. From now on, environmental civil lawsuits will be examined by directly by intermediate people’s court.

That of environmental protection is a very hot topic in society. Both last year, and this year there were successful cases against big polluting companies, and the «Interpretation» is yet another big step towards a better protection of the environment.

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