Executive Summary
  1. The Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China (the "Interpretation") was issued on 30 January 2015, and for the first time gives a clear definition of electronic data.
  2. Updates to regional minimum monthly and hourly salary levels.
  3. News on the expected 2017 Retirement Age Extension Scheme.
Amendment to the Judicial Interpretation of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China

The Supreme People's Court has issued an Interpretation on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China ("PRC"). The Interpretation, which was issued on 30 January 2015, has, for the first time, set out a clear legal definition of "electronic data". According to the Supreme People's Court, "electronic data" refers to information formed or stored in electronic media. This includes emails, electronic data interchanges (online chatting records, blogs, microblogs and short messages) and also extends to electronic signatures and domain names. Audio and visual materials which are stored in electronic media also fall within the definition. Although the Interpretation has confirmed that electronic data will be admissible as evidence in civil litigation, it remains to be seen just how liberal judges will be in recognising such evidence.

The Interpretation also set out some more general updates with regards to the use of evidence during litigation as follows:

  • The minimum period for submitting evidence in the first instance was reduced from 30 days (as previously stipulated under the Supreme People's Court Provisions on Evidence in Civil Proceedings) to 15 days. The period for submitting new evidence in the second instance shall be not less than 10 days;
  • for the first time, the "high probability" principle for certifying a fact is confirmed;
  • evidence produced by any entity to the People's Court must contain signatures or seals of the relevant entity, the person in charge of that entity, and of the person(s) who prepared the evidence. The court may investigate the entity and/or relevant person(s) to verify the evidence. Where necessary, the court may require the person who has prepared the evidence to testify in court. If the entity and relevant person(s) refuse to cooperate with the investigation and verification process, or if the person who has prepared the evidence refuses to testify in court without good cause, the evidence shall not be used for the purposes of determining the relevant facts in the litigation;
  • witnesses (excluding those with limited or no capacity) are required to sign a guarantee to the court before providing a testimony; and
  • the Interpretation sets out detailed provisions on expert witnesses appearing in court on behalf of the parties to a case. Such persons may cross-examine expert opinions, or issue opinions on the specialised issues in the case. Opinions issued by expert witnesses shall be deemed to be statements of the party on whose behalf they appear.
Local Minimum and Average Monthly Salaries for 2015

Since the beginning of this year, minimum monthly and hourly salary standards have been issued in certain regions. The table below details the salary levels in each region, including the date on which they were or will be implemented:

Shanghai

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 2020/18
  • Implementation date: 1 April 2015

Shenzhen

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 2030/18.5
  • Implementation date: 1 March 2015

Tianjin

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1850/18.5
  • Implementation date: 1 April 2015

Guangdong

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1895/18.3
  • Implementation date: 1 May 2015

Beijing

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1720/18.7
  • Implementation date: 1 April 2015

Shandon

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1600/16
  • Implementation date: 1 March 2015

Shanxi

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1480/14.8
  • Implementation date: 1 May 2015

Gansu

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1470/15.5
  • Implementation date: 1 April 2015

Xizang

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1400/13
  • Implementation date: 1 January 2015

Hunan

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1390/13.5
  • Implementation date: 1 January 2015

Hainan

  • New minimum salary levels in RMB (monthly/hourly): 1270/11.2
  • Implementation date: 1 January 2015

N.B: the figures above set out the highest minimum rate in the relevant province.

Only two cities, Shanghai and Tianjin, have announced a figure for the local average monthly salary over the last year. The average monthly salaries were RMB 5451 and RMB 4686 respectively.

Retirement Age Extension Scheme Expected to be Launched in 2017

According to statistics issued by the State Statistics Bureau, the Chinese population is ageing at a rapid pace. The number of people aged over 60 increased by 10 million over the last year, amounting to 15.5% of the total population. It is predicted that by 2030, this will increase to 350 million, making up 25% of the total population. The State Statistics Bureau has also published results which showed that 2014 saw a decrease in China's workforce (which has been continually declining for the last three years) by a further 3.71 million.

In a bid to deal with the ageing population and workforce shortages, the Head of Human Resource and the Social Security Department, during the third session of China's 12th National People's Congress, indicated that a Retirement Age Extension Scheme (the 'Scheme') is expected to be formulated in 2017. Following its launch, the Scheme will be gradually implemented over the following five years. The current retirement age in China for men is 60. The retirement age for women depends on the work they do. The retirement age for female blue-collar workers is 50, and 55 for female white collar workers. It is expected that the Scheme will increase the retirement age to 65 for both men and women, irrespective of the work they carry out.

Authors

Walsh-Pádraig

Pádraig Walsh

Partner
China and Hong Kong

Call me on: +852 2248 6000
Image of Ying Wang

Ying Wang

Partner
China and Hong Kong

Call me on: +86 21 2312 1288
de Silva-Susan

Susan de Silva

Consultant
Singapore

Call me on: +65 6534 5266