BEIJING — China’s central government has ordered all central ministerial agencies, governments and Communist Party committees above the country-level and State-owned enterprises (SOE) to adopt a legal counsel system before 2017, a major step to promote rule of law.
Such legal counsels, either hired from outside or converted from the previous public office lawyers within the government, will play a bigger role in government functions and SOE operations, according to a guideline released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council.
Government and Party organizations are urged to hear the opinions of legal counsels before deliberations or making major decisions, involve them in the process of decision-making, formulation of major government policies and intra-Party rules, and the handling of some legal cases and emergency situations, said the guideline.
They are also expected to participate in negotiations involving government or Party organizations and deal with other legal matters.
Legal counsels at SOEs will take part in the formulation of board rules, help review operational decisions and contracts and provide legal opinions on major moves, such as mergers and acquisitions, reorganization, going public and intellectual property protection.
The document is a follow-up to a decision released after the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which said, “We will establish a universal system of legal counsel.”