On July 27, 2020, the Supreme People’s Court issued the " Guiding Opinions on Unifying the Application of Laws to Strengthen Retrieval of Similar Cases (Trial)" (hereinafter referred to as the "Opinions"), with the newly released search system for similar cases, to serve the purpose of unifying the application of law so as to achieve "similarity” in judgments over similar cases and “difference” in judgments over different cases. In fact, as early as November 2010, the Supreme People’s Court had issued the "Provisions on Case Guidance", which required the courts at all levels to make judgement on the basis of reference to the guiding cases. With the rapid development of the Internet in China, search tools and data available nowadays are sufficient to support the needs of search work, so a search system for similar cases is born.
The Opinions has specified the main body of search as the "responsible judges", and it has defined the types of cases for mandatory search; the scope, platform, method, and order of similar cases search; the degree of responsibility and the work objectives of the responsible judges; as well as laid out the requirements concerning the preparation, content and evaluation criteria of the retrieved cases reports, and the development of technology and databases to facilitate the system.
It’s noteworthy that the Opinions also requires the People’s Courts, if there are inconsistencies in the application of laws in a retrieved similar case, to resolve difference on the basis of reference to the “Implementation Measures of the Supreme People’s Court for Establishing the Mechanism for Resolving Difference in the Application of Laws”.
The complete provisions of the Opinions in Chinese can be read here: http://www.court.gov.cn/fabu-xiangqing-243981.html