What is China's Court
of Railway Transportation?

By Wang Xuanjun

THE MERCHANTS ARE paying increasing attention to cargo flow to which a lot is being contributed by the domestic and international railway transports with regard to the People's Republic of China ("PRC" or "China").

Thus, more knowledge of China's Court of Railway Transportation (CCRT) is becoming important to the persons who wish to prevent from or promptly settle the disputes over the relevant railway transports.

The CCRT, like China's Maritime Court and China's Military Court, is one of China's courts of special jurisdiction. As special court handling cases concerning the railway transports, the CCRT was established corresponding to the organization framework of China's railway system. There are, at present, one ministry of railway, 14 railway bureaus and 60 sub-bureaus within China's railway system in respect of its organization framework.

One Intermediate Railway Transportation Court (IRTC) is established for one railway bureau, one Grassroots Railway Transportation Court (GRTC) is established for one railway sub-bureau. Correspondingly, existing in China are 14 IRTCs and 60 GRTCs. But is no one is higher than the railway transportation court for the Ministry. The 14 IRTCs are respectively located at Kunming, Liuzhou, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanchang, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Huhehot, Beijing, Jinan, Harbin and Shenyang.

The direct superior courts of IRTCs are respectively the Higher People's Courts of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in which the IRTCs are located. In case that a party in a lawsuit refuses to accept a first-instance judgment given by Zhenghou Intermediate Railway Transporation Court (Zhengzhou IRTC) as final, he may institute an appeal in Higher People's Court of Henan Province in which Zhengzhou IRTC is located.

Then for what kind of case a proceeding may be instituted in CCRT? The law cases within the extent of jurisdiction by CCRT, in accordance with the related provisions by the Supreme People's Court of the PRC, are criminal cases cleared up by public security organization of railway transportation authority and China's domestic and international economic cases. Every kind of civil case and the cases of other nature shall be accepted by local people's court instead of CCRT. Therefore, established in the CCRT are economic adjudication division, criminal adjudication division, complaint and petition division but civil adjudication division.

With the high-speed development of China's economy, the increasing of economic disputes handled by CCRT is becoming prominent. Four categories of economic cases shall be accepted by CCRT as follows:

(1) the dispute over economic contract for railway cargo transport, multi-modal transport (over which the dispute is handled by related railway organization), international railway cargo combined transports, railway transport of luggage, etc.;

(2) the dispute over tort as trespass to the property of railway transport organization, personal injury caused by railway business operation, etc.;

(3) the dispute between or among railway transport entities, organizations;

(4) other economic dispute cases designated.

The basic laws and regulations applied in trying economic cases are the Civil Procedure Law of the PRC as procedural law and General Principles of Civil Law of the PRC, Railway Law of the PRC and Protocol on International Railway Cargo Combined Transportation (SMGS) as substantive ones.

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Text and Photo 1999, Wang Xuanjun
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