What is the definition of law in China? What is the role of a defence lawyer? How does the Supreme People's Court verify death sentences? What legal aid is available to criminal defendants? How independent are court decisions? Some of the questions CESL students asked on a visit to the law firm DeHeng
on September 28, 2011.
The visit was organised as part of the CLTE course on the Chinese Criminal Justice System
. CESL students met with representatives from DeHeng and had the opportunity to learn more about Chinese lawyers and the how law is practised in China.
CESL students learn about Chinese lawyers and how the law is practised in China.
After an introduction to DeHeng's Chinese and international operations by Bai Mingliang, students were given the chance to raise questions. Manuel Aldemira, a University of Maastricht CLTE exchange student, asked how damages and criminal responsibility would be apportioned in the collision on the Shanghai metro. Zheng Xiaojun, a legal adviser at DeHeng, highlighted differences in tort law and contract law in China, where both the scales and remedies for damages vary. A discussion was also held about compensation agreements and civil proceedings.
CESL students at DeHeng
Students also heard about China's Anti-Monopoly Law from Yin Jianping and reform in the sentencing of death penalty cases (which are now all reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court) and the reduction in the number of cases that carry the death sentence from DeHeng partner Wang Zhaofeng.
Returning to the question, "What is the definition of law in China?" from Hamid Abadi, a CLTE exchange student from the University of Hamburg, Zheng Xiaojun answered that he had asked the same question at a job interview. The doctoral graduate answered, "Law is code."
Pizza Hut and McDonald's encountered this attitude when they tried to register their names only to discover a competitor had already done so.
Zheng Xiaojun defines the law.
Chinese law followed the civil law practise of first come first registered, regardless of the principle of well-known brands. Only after many years, the signing of the Paris Convention, and the director of the trademark bureau seeing first-hand that the competitor had acted unfairly, would the trademark bureau cancel the original registrations and allow Pizza Hut and McDonalds to register.
The job applicant's answer was representative of the belief that the only law is that written codes. However, this is changing as both the law and people's understanding develops.
Students taking Yue Liling's
course on the Chinese Criminal Justice System will also visit a prison and a court as part of their studies.