NPCSC Session Watch: NPC Preparations, Stamp Duty & Mid-Term Report on Civil Litigation Reform Pilots (Updated)

UPDATE (Feb. 26, 2021): Various media outlets have recently reported that the NPC would deliberate a bill to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system at its upcoming March plenary session. We expect the NPCSC to conduct an initial review of this bill during its meeting on February 26–27, although it is likely that such activity would not be publicly disclosed.

The Council of Chairpersons decided on Tuesday, February 9 convene the 26th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) from February 27 to 28. The main purpose of this two-day meeting is to prepare for the upcoming NPC session, which is scheduled to open on March 5. The meeting will, for instance, propose an agenda for the NPC session and discuss the NPCSC’s annual work report to the NPC. The meeting will therefore review only one legislative bill and a few reports. We will briefly discuss the bill and highlight one report below.

First, to implement the principle of “law-based taxation,” the State Council submitted a draft Stamp Tax Law [印花税法] to replace its Interim Regulations on Stamp Tax [印花税暂行条例], first adopted in 1988. The State Council previously released a draft in November 2018 for public comments. According to the State Council meeting that approved the latest draft, the Law would generally retain the current tax scheme while making changes to taxable documents and tax rates to reduce the corporate tax burden. We expect the Law to pass after two rounds of deliberations.

Second, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) submitted a mid-term report on its civil litigation pilot reform. The NPCSC authorized the pilot in December 2019 to “optimize the allocation of judicial resources” by channeling civil cases through different procedures based on their complexities. Specifically, the pilot expands the use of procedures for judicially recognizing mediation agreements; permits more disputes to be heard using the expedited, small-claims procedures; further shortens summary procedures; allows a single judge to hear certain first-instance cases and appeals; and authorizes civil litigation over the internet. The pilot officially began in January 2020 when the SPC issued a set of implementing measures and will expire in January 2022. Before then, the SPC may submit amendments to the Civil Procedure Law [民事诉讼法] to codify the reform or may request an extension of the pilot.

We will update this post with any additional news from the NPCSC session this month and do not expect to publish a separate post-session recap.

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