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China to support civil litigation against environmental offenders

Updated: Jan 7,2015 10:11 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China will offer more support to non-governmental organizations (NGO) to bring lawsuits against those who commit environmental violations, according to a judicial interpretation issued on Jan 6 by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).

The SPC, together with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), also issued a circular to guarantee such litigation.

According to the judicial interpretation, which will come into effect on Jan 7, an NGO that protects the public interest and carries out environmental protection activities qualifies for recognition as an “environmental protection NGO.”

As of late September 2014, China had more than 700 environmental protection NGOs, according to the country’s regulations, said Liao Hong, an official with the MCA.

The judicial interpretation said that court charges should be reduced in public non-profit environmental litigation and shall be paid by the defendant if the plaintiff wins the lawsuit.

Environmental protection NGOs can also sue violators across the country, regardless of their registration region, said the judicial interpretation

Environmental protection NGOs that seek profits from litigation should be punished by their registered offices, it said.

After courts accept litigation, they should report it to relevant environmental protection organs within 10 days to investigate the case, it added.

Bie Tao, vice head of the policy and regulation division of the MEP, said that environmental protection organs will advise courts on handling cases.

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