Zhou Qiang: threshold for environmental lawsuits will be lowered

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The Supreme Court encourages environmental organizations to bring public interest lawsuits, and it will lower the threshold for such lawsuits, Zhou Qiang, chief justice and president of China’s highest court, said during the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia. Zhou also said that the Supreme Court will try its best to put an end to government intervention in environmental protection lawsuits.

The inclusion of public interest lawsuits in the environmental law was a great breakthrough in terms of environmental protection legislation. Bringing public interest lawsuits is not only a great way for the public to participate in the cause of environmental protection, it’s also beneficial to the advancement of judicial democracy” said Zhou.

However, there are reports that only three environmental cases have filed since the enactment of the new environmental law, and there have also been complaints from local courts about difficulties in accepting and hearing environmental lawsuits. In response to these problems, Zhou promised that the Supreme Court will facilitate the filing of environmental lawsuits by lowering the threshold and by supporting the involvement of the procurator’s office in public interest civil cases in the area of environmental protection. He also said that it is important to compensate the victims of environmental pollution and promptly repair the damage rather than merely punish the polluters. He stressed that the best way to promote environmental protection education is to openly try environmental cases and allow press coverage of those cases. He revealed that 382 special courts and collegiate panels dedicated to environmental cases have been established in the judicial system across the country.