To clarify and ensure the consistent enforcement of provisions relating to the time limit for submitting evidence in civil cases, China’s Supreme People’s Court (the Supreme Court) recently issued the Circular on the Application of the Rules Governing Time Limit for Submitting Evidence under the Several Provisions on Evidence in Civil Procedures, the Circular, which took effect on December 11, 2008.
General Rules on the Time Limit for Submitting Evidence
The Several Provisions on Evidence in Civil Procedures, which have been implemented since 2002, stipulate the general rules on the time limit for submitting evidence in civil cases. According to the Evidence Provisions, the time limit for submitting evidence may be agreed upon by the parties to the case and affirmed by the court, or if the court designates the time limit, the designated time limit may not be less than 30 days.
However, with the emergence of new circumstances and problems, different interpretations of the rules on the time limit for submitting evidence have appeared. Thus, the Supreme Court issued the Circular to guide the courts in their application of these rules and determination of new evidence.
When the Time Limit for the Submission of Evidence May be Less Than 30 days
The Circular clarifies that while as a general rule, the time limit for evidence submission as designated by a court may not be shorter than 30 days, under the following circumstances, the court may designate a time limit that is less than 30 days:
- Cases in summary procedure;
- Cases in ordinary procedure, after the court has obtained the consent of the parties involved;
- Cases in ordinary procedure, after the first designated time limit expires and further evidence or counterevidence is needed;
- Cases in the trial of the first instance, when one of the parties raises an objection to the jurisdiction within the first designated time limit, and the court’s ruling on dismissing the jurisdictional objection becomes effective, the re-designated time limit may be less than 30 days once the court obtains the consent of the parties involved;
- Cases in the trial of the second instance, when new evidence is submitted; and
- Cases remanded for retrial because of unclear facts or insufficient evidence.
Determination of New Evidence
According to the Evidence Provisions, the court will not accept evidence submitted after the time limit expires unless it is new evidence. Thus, the determination of new evidence is of significance for the parties to the case. To ensure that the parties to the case sufficiently exercise their litigious rights, the Circular provides two factors for the court to consider when determining new evidence. These factors are:
- Whether the evidence objectively existed during the time limit for submitting evidence or any other time limit prescribed in the Evidence Provisions; and
- Whether a party to the case, deliberately or in gross negligence, fails to submit evidence within the time limit for submitting evidence or any other time limit prescribed in judicial interpretations.