The Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Amending the Administrative Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted during the 11th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th Term National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on November 1, 2014. The new law (hereinafter, the "New Administrative Procedure Law") will go into effect on May 1, 2015. The New Administrative Law primarily contains the following modifications:

  1. The scope of actionable "administrative acts" and "subjects of administrative tort" is expanded. Article 2 of the original Administrative Procedure Law provides that if a citizen, a legal person or any other organization considers that his or its lawful rights and interests have been infringed by a specific administrative act of an administrative agency or its personnel, he or it shall have the right to bring a suit before a people's court in accordance with this Law. Under Article 2 Para. 1 of the New Administrative Procedure Law, if a citizen, a legal person or any other organization considers that his or its lawful rights and interests have been infringed by an administrative act of an administrative agency or its personnel, he or it shall have the right to bring a suit before a people's court in accordance with this Law. Paragraph 2 provides that the "administrative act" set forth in the preceding paragraph shall include any administrative act engaged by an organization authorized by laws, regulations, or ordnances. Such modification shows that an actionable "act" is changed from a "specific administrative act" to an "administrative act." This change obviously suggests that the scope of actionable "acts" has been expanded. At least the legal barriers for any action against "abstract administrative acts" are eliminated. Moreover, in addition to all levels of administrative agencies or departments of the state, organizations authorized by laws, regulations or ordnances can also serve as subjects of administrative tort.
  2. It is specifically required that the head of an administrative agency shall appear in court. Article 3 of the New Administrative Procedure Law contains the following additional provision: the responsible person of an administrative agency subject to the administrative action shall appear in court, and if such appearance is not possible, relevant personnel of such administrative agency shall be requested to appear in court. Such modification shows that the New Administrative Procedure Law enhances the protection of the parties' litigation rights in order to address existing difficult issues such as evidence collection, case establishment, trial and enforcement. The requirement that the head of an administrative agency shall appear in court not only helps reduce contradictions between the parties to an administrative lawsuit and avoid aggravated confrontation between the parties but also is conducive to the actual resolution of an administrative case.
  3. The breadth of judicial review will be expanded. Article 11 of the old Administrative Procedure Law becomes Article 12 of the New Administrative Procedure Law with the following additions and modifications: "(8) cases where an administrative agency is considered to have abused administrative authority to exclude or restrict competition;" "(11) cases where an administrative authority fails to perform pursuant to law or to contract or illegally changes or illegally rescinds agreements such as government franchise agreements or land or house requisition compensation agreements;" and "(12) cases where an administrative agency is considered to have violated lawful rights and interests such as personal or property rights of others." Such amendments suggest that the New Administrative Procedure Law expands the interest relations from "personal or property rights" to "lawful rights and interests such as personal or property rights" based on existing protection available under the original Administrative Procedure Law and enhances the protection of other social rights such as the right to social security and fair competition. From now on, acts excluding or restrict competition and acts concerning administrative contractual disputes will be included in the scope of actionable administrative acts.
  4. The jurisdiction of the intermediate people's courts is adjusted, and cross-region jurisdiction is allowed. Under Article 14 of the original Administrative Procedure Law, the intermediate people's court shall have jurisdiction as the court of first instance over the following administrative cases: (1) cases of confirming patent rights of invention and cases handled by the Customs; (2) suits against specific administrative acts undertaken by departments under the State Council or the people's governments of provinces, autonomous regions or municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the central government; and (3) grave and complicated cases in areas under their jurisdiction. Under the New Administrative Procedure Law, Article 14 is changed into Article 15, which is revised as follows: the intermediate people's court shall have jurisdiction as the court of first instance over the following administrative cases: (1) suits against administrative acts undertaken by departments under the State Council or the people's governments above the level of county; (2) cases handled by the Customs; (3) grave and complicated cases in areas under their jurisdiction; and (4) other cases which fall within the jurisdiction of the intermediate people's court pursuant to law. Meanwhile, Article 6 is added to the New Administrative Procedure Law and stipulates that the high people's courts may determine certain administrative cases handled by people's courts across different administrative areas according to the actual circumstances of trial work. The above modifications indicate that the New Administrative Procedure Law provides convenience to parties seeking recourse through administrative action by expanding the scope of the first instance administrative cases handled by the intermediate people's courts and putting an end to the practice where court jurisdiction is consistent with administrative jurisdiction.
  5. The defendants in administrative lawsuits are adjusted. Under Article 25 Para. 2 of the original Administrative Procedure Law, for a reconsidered case, if the agency that conducted the reconsideration sustains the original specific administrative act, the administrative agency that initially undertook the original specific administrative act shall be the defendant. Under the New Administrative Procedure Law, Article 25 is changed into Article 26, and Paragraph 2 is revised as follows: " for a reconsidered case, if the agency that conducted the reconsideration sustains the original specific administrative act, the administrative agency that initially undertook the original specific administrative act shall be the defendant; if the agency that conducted the reconsideration amends the original administrative act, the agency that conducted the reconsideration shall be the defendant." In addition, one paragraph which becomes paragraph 3 is added to stipulate the following: "if the agency that conducted the reconsideration fails to render a reconsideration decision with the statutory period, the citizen, legal person or any other organization that originally brought the administrative action against the original administrative act, the agency that conducted the reconsideration shall be the defendant." Paragraph 4 is changed into Paragraph 5 and is revised as follows: "if an administrative act is undertaken by an organization retained by an administrative agency, the retaining administrative agency shall be the defendant." Paragraph 5 is changed into Paragraph 6 and is revised as follows: "if an administrative agency has been abolished or if its authority has changed, the administrative agency that continues to exercise such authority shall be the defendant." The above amendments show that for a reconsidered case, if the agency that conducts the reconsideration sustains the original decision, such agency and the original administrative agency shall be joint defendants. If an agency that conducts reconsideration fails to act, such agency may also become a defendant. In case of an administrative act undertaken by an organization retained by an administrative agency, such retaining administrative agency shall be the defendant. In the event that the authority of an administrative agency has changed, the administrative agency that continues to exercise such authority shall be the defendant. Such clear delineation of defendants provides great convenience to parties to an administrative action in determining the defendant(s) of an administrative act.
  6. It is specifically stipulated that the plaintiffs in an administrative lawsuit shall include "interested parties to an administrative act." Article 24 Para. 1 of the original Administrative Procedure Law provides as follows: "A citizen, a legal person or any other organization that brings a suit in accordance with this Law shall be a plaintiff." Paragraph 2 stipulates: "If a citizen who has the right to bring a suit is deceased, his near relatives may bring the suit." Paragraph 3 provides as follows: "If a legal person or any other organization that has the right to bring a suit is terminated, the legal person or any other organization that succeeds to its rights may bring the suit. Under the New Administrative Procedure Law, Article 24 becomes Article 25, and Paragraph 1 is revised as such: "A counterparty to an administrative act or any other citizen, legal person or organization interested in the administrative act shall have the right to bring a suit." Such modifications suggest that the original Administrative Procedure Law only stipulates that the party that brings a suit shall be the plaintiff without providing for any specific requirement for the qualifications of the plaintiff. The New Administrative Procedure Law expands the scope of plaintiffs, which is not limited to administrative counterparties and also includes any other citizen, legal person or organization interested in an administrative act.
  7. The statute of limitation is extended to six months. Article 39 of the original Administrative Procedure Law provides follows: if a citizen, legal person or any other organization brings a suit directly before a people's court, he or it shall do so within three months when he or it knows that a specific administrative act has been undertaken. Under the New Administrative Procedure Law, Article 39 becomes Article 46, which provides as follows: if a citizen, legal person or any other organization brings a suit directly before a people's court, he or it shall do so within six months after the time when he or it knows or is presumed to know that an administrative act has been undertaken. Such modifications indicate that the New Administrative Procedure Law extends the statute of limitation from the original three months to six months. This is favorable to citizens, legal persons and other social organizations in safeguarding their lawful rights and interests.