Several Issues concerning the Application of Small Claim Procedures to the Trial of Civil Cases
· Area of Law： Civil Litigation
· Level of Authority： Local Judicial Documents
· Issuing Authority： Higher People's Court of Beijing Municipality
· Status： Effective
Opinions of the Beijing High People's Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Small Claim Procedures to the Trial of Civil Cases
For the purpose of properly applying small claim procedures to the trial of civil cases, the following Opinions are hereby put forward for reference in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China and the Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, and in light of the actual trial practice of courts in Beijing Municipality:
Article 1 (Guiding principles)
When applying small claim procedures to the trial of civil cases, the courts shall strictly abide by the Civil Procedure Law and relevant judicial interpretations, fully protect the litigation rights of the parties concerned, effectively ensure the quality of cases, and constantly improve the trial efficiency.
Article 2 (Application conditions)
Cases satisfying all of the following conditions shall be subject to small claim procedures:
(1) Cases where the facts are clear, the relationship of rights and obligations are unambiguous, and the disputes are minor, and to which the summary procedures may apply.
(2) Cases of which the subject matter value falls below 30% of the annual average wage of employees in Beijing Municipality (annual average wage of workers in Beijing Municipality) in the last year.
(3) The following cases which solely involve monetary payment:
1. Cases involving disputes over sales contracts, loan contracts or lease contracts.
2. Cases involving disputes over alimony or payment for supporting the children or aging parents where the identity relationship is clear and the disputes are only over the amount, time or methods of payment.
3. Case involving disputes over compensation for damages from traffic accidents and other personal injuries where the liabilities are clarified and the disputes are only over the amount, time or methods of payment.
4. Cases involving disputes over contracts on the supply and use of water, electricity, gas or heating power.
5. Case involving bank card disputes.
6. Case involving disputes over labor contracts in which the labor relationship is clear, and the disputes are only over the amount, time or methods of payment of labor remunerations, medical expenses for work-related injury, economic indemnity or compensation.
7. Cases involving disputes over service contracts in which the service relationship is clear, and the disputes are only over the amount, time or methods of payment of service remunerations.
8. Cases involving disputes over property management, telecommunications or other service contracts.
9. Case involving other monetary payment disputes.
Article 3 (Exclusions)
Small claim procedures shall not apply to cases that fall under any of the following circumstances:
(1) Cases involving disputes over personal relationship or property right confirmation.
(2) Cases involving foreign-related civil disputes.
(3) Cases involving intellectual property disputes.
(4) Cases involving disputes where evaluation or appraisal is required or any objection is raised to pre-action evaluation or appraisal results.
(5) Cases involving other disputes for which the adjudication of first instance is not appropriate to be final.
Article 4 (Standards for subject matter value and the adjustments thereto)
For the purpose of item (2) of Article 2 of these Opinions, “annual average wage of employees in Beijing Municipality (annual average wage of workers in Beijing Municipality) in the last year” means the data of the last year that have been published at the time when a case is docketed. Before the data of the last year is published, the data of the most recent year that have been published shall prevail.
Article 5 (Calculation of the subject matter value)
The subject matter value of a case shall be determined based on the total amount of all claims made by the plaintiff upon filing the lawsuit.
Where the plaintiff claims interest, liquidated damages, or monetary losses, among others, if a definite amount has been proposed, the amount shall be included in the subject matter value of the case; and, if the plaintiff only proposes the methods for calculation, the amount as of the date when the case is docketed that is calculated according to the methods proposed by the plaintiff shall be included in the subject matter value of the case.
For a case involving disputes over alimony, or payment for supporting children or aging parents, if the plaintiff claims expenses for a definite period of time in the past or in future, the subject matter value of the case shall be calculated according to the total amount of the plaintiff's claims; and, if the plaintiff requests regular payment but proposes only the standards for expenses, the one-year amount calculated according to the standards proposed by the plaintiff shall be deemed as the subject matter value of the case.
Article 6 (Case number and statistics)
The cases subject to small claim procedures shall be assigned with case numbers under the “first instance” category. Personnel docketing the cases and the judges shall fill out relevant items in the trial management system in an accurate and complete manner so as to facilitate statistical analysis of data.
Article 7 (Notification)
For a case subject to small claim procedures, the court shall, in addition to notifying the parties concerned of general litigation rights and obligations, specifically notify them in writing of the conditions for the application of small claim procedures, judicial organization, trial methods, the fact that the adjudication of the first instance shall be final, the right to apply for retrial and other major matters, and require the parties concerned to sign for the relevant written materials. The plaintiff shall be notified of the aforesaid information when the case is docketed, while the defendant shall be notified when the written complaint is served thereon.
The aforesaid written materials may be the Notice of Small Claim specially prepared, or may be added to the Notice of Case Acceptance, the Notice of Responding to Action and other instruments.
All parties concerned shall be notified in a timely manner in the case of determined application of small claim procedures or in the case of conversion of procedures.
Article 8 (Handling of objections)
A party concerned who has objections to the application of small claim procedures shall raise the objections before the commencement of a court session. The judges shall listen carefully to the party's opinions and render a ruling in a timely manner. If the objections are supported, the court shall try the case in accordance with the general provisions of summary procedures, or convert the case to ordinary procedures; and, if the objections are not supported, the court shall dismiss the party's objection application. A ruling rendered orally shall be recorded in transcripts.
Article 9 (Specialized Trial)
All courts shall designate special judges to try cases subject to small claim procedures. Qualified courts may also set up specialized tribunals.
Article 10 (Conversion of procedures)
Where a case fails to satisfy the conditions for the application of small claim procedures since a party concerned applies for adding or changing claims, a counterclaim is filed, or another party is added, among others, the court shall rule to try the case in accordance with the general provisions of summary procedures or convert the case to ordinary procedures. A ruling rendered orally shall be recorded in transcripts.
Where the case is tried in accordance with the general provisions of summary procedures, none of the parties concerned have provided any new evidence and the court session has been completed, no separate court session is required. Where the case is converted to ordinary procedures, the court shall form a collegiate panel and hold a new court session. Before the conversion of procedures, the facts ascertained by all parties concerned are not required to be proved or cross-examined.
Article 11 (Period of defense)
Where the defendant requests a written defense, the people's court may, after obtaining the consent of the defendant, properly determine a period of defense, which, however, shall not exceed 15 days at the maximum.
Article 12 (Producing evidence)
The time limit for producing evidence for a small claim lawsuit may be either determined by the people's court, or agreed on by the parties concerned by consensus and approved by the people's court, which, however, shall generally not exceed seven days.
The application for extending the period for producing evidence by a party concerned who has already waived such period shall generally not be approved.
The court may, in accordance with relevant provisions, decide whether to allow the party concerned to provide the new evidence that is newly found after the commencement of a court session.
Article 13 (Commencing court sessions for trial)
Where a case is tried under small claim procedures, the notice on court session may be served on the parties concerned in a simplified manner, provided that relevant supporting materials shall be included in case files; the time, place and manner of court session may be determined in a flexible manner without being subject to Articles 136, 138 and 141 of the Civil Procedure Law; and, the court may require the parties concerned to take all the evidence during the court session and notify witnesses to appear in court, and shall strive to render a judgment and serve the judgment document on the parties concerned in court upon the conclusion of one court session.
Where, after appearing before the court, the parties concerned state that neither the time period for producing evidence nor the period of defense is needed, the people's court may promptly hold a court session to try the case.
Article 14 (Period of trial)
A small claim lawsuit shall be concluded within three months from the date when it is docketed.
The provisions on the deduction of certain time period from the trial period under special circumstances shall not apply to the three-month period as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Upon the expiry of the trial period, the small claim procedures shall be converted to the applicable procedures by reference to Article 10 of these Opinions.
Article 15 (Mediation)
When applying small claim procedures to try a case, the court shall try its best to organize mediation among the parties concerned in all aspects of litigation, pay attention to the flexibility, legitimacy and feasibility of mediation methods, strive to achieve the goal of settling the cases and disputes, and give full play to the function of litigation mediation.
Article 16 (Principle that the adjudication of the first instance is final)
The judgments and rulings rendered by people's courts for small claim lawsuits shall take effect immediately after being rendered.
A judgment shall come into force on the date when it is pronounced in court or on a fixed future date when it is pronounced. The effectiveness of a judgment shall not be affected if a party concerned fails to appear before the court without any justified reason on the date when the judgment is pronounced.
The provisions in the preceding paragraph shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the entry into force of rulings.
Article 17 (Simplification of judgment documents)
The judgment document on a small claim lawsuit may be simplified to primarily record the basic information on the parties concerned, their claims, and the main body of the judgment, among others.
Article 18 (Essential elements of judgment documents)
“This judgment (ruling) is final” shall be clearly stated at the end of the judgment document on a small claim lawsuit by invoking Article 162 of the Civil Procedure Law.
Article 19 (Application of law)
In the absence of applicable provisions under relevant laws, judicial interpretations and these Opinions, people's courts shall try small claim lawsuits under other provisions of summary procedures.
Article 20 (Supplementary provisions)
These Opinions shall come into force on the date of issuance.
Please report any problem encountered in the implementation of these Opinions to the competent tribunals of the Beijing High People's Court in a timely manner.