Central Party School Rule of Law Visit and Roundtable

Cps Roundtable

From Monday 3 December to Friday 7 December 2018, GBCC supported the visit of a five-member delegation from the Central Party School (CPS), the Beijing-based institution tasked with training officials for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The delegation, led by CPS deputy provost Professor Zhuo Zeyuan, was in the UK to discuss developments in the rule of law in the UK and China.

The CPS is an influential policy generator for the Party. High-ranking Chinese officials must attend training at the CPS ranging from three months to three-years. Delegation leader Professor Zhuo previously served as deputy director of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) Judicial Reform Office. He is an influential scholar on rule of law and constitutional issues in China.

The visit was an opportunity to engage with the CPS on current thinking and debates on the rule of law in China, particularly in relation to developments under President Xi Jinping and the CCP’s ‘law-based governance’ approach in practice.

The Chinese delegation also had the opportunity to gain greater insight into the rule of law in practice in the UK. They explored the historical development of rule of law and English common law, as well as several technical legal issues, and various challenges faced by modern UK society. These challenges ranged from constitutional concerns, to ensuring the protection of civil liberties and national security, and rule of law and international trade and human rights protections.

During the visit, the delegation met with the FCO; senior parliamentarians; legal practitioners; human rights, international law and constitutional scholars; and China scholars from King’s College, London, the University of Oxford, SOAS, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Nottingham. They also visited Nottingham Crown Court to witness court proceedings and meet court administrators and judges.

The delegation met with GBCC’s vice president, the Right Hon Sir Oliver Letwin MP, and GBCC board member, the Right Hon Liam Byrne MP. At a meeting with Justice of The Supreme Court, The Right Hon Lord Hodge, the delegation discussed judicial reform efforts in the UK and China. Lord Hodge led the UK delegation at the recent 5th UK-China judicial roundtable, held in October 2018 and organised by GBCC, which focused on cross border criminal and commercial legal cooperation.

On Tuesday 4th December, GBCC hosted a roundtable on ‘Rule of Law in Practice’, chaired by assistant director, Kathryn Rand. Phil Golding, chief executive of the Law Commission, David Sprackling, director general at the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, and Matthew Bell, head of legislation services at the National Archives, discussed independent law review, legal drafting and public access to legislation with the delegation.

Phil Golding discussed the role of the Law Commission, as an independent statutory body, in reviewing legislation and recommending legal reform in the UK. He highlighted the public consultations that the Commission undertakes, and particular aspects of legal reform that the body is tasked to independently review by government.

David Sprackling explained the role of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC), part of the Cabinet Office, in drafting all Bills introduced to Parliament by government. While the OPC must draft legislation in accordance with government policy, Mr Sprackling also reiterated that the Office must also maintain the integrity of the rule of law when drafting legislation.

Matthew Bell introduced the work that Legislation Services, a division of the UK’s National Archives, has undertaken to make the UK’s legislation accessible to the public on the website legislation.gov.uk. Enacted legislation is now available online from the year 1267 to the present, increasing transparency and accountability.

With up to 20,000 changes to primary and secondary legislation per year, Mr Bell commented that it is challenging to ensure timely updates. He noted that Legislation Services have undertaken research of their user-base and identified increasing public demand for open and online access to legislation.

Participants shared their experiences of the challenges of ensuring fair, open and effective public consultations in review of legislation, particularly weighing the balance been expert and non-expert opinion during public and stakeholder consultations. Discussions also highlighted the impact of digital technology and artificial intelligence on law reform, from legislating for automated vehicles and smart contracts, to the changing expectations of users.

Discussion also covered the differences between common law and civil law jurisdictions in relation to legislative frameworks. The Chinese delegation was particularly interested in the relationship between case law and statutes in the UK. They also shared their perspectives on China’s ongoing efforts to make legislation more accessible to the country’s citizens.

Throughout the week, the Chinese delegation and their UK interlocutors reiterated the value of sharing experiences and engaging in debate on rule of law in the UK and China. They expressed a desire for further opportunities to continue these discussions in the future.

Date posted: 23 December 2018

Categories: Rule of Law

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