When Chief Officials Take the Stand in Administrative Litigation: Towards Greater Legal Compliance?

Event date
23 November 2023
Event time
14:30 - 15:30
Oxford week
MT 7
Faculty of Law - Seminar Room D

Dr CHEN Tianhao (Associate Professor, Tsinghua University, China)


Chinese administrative agencies are generally averse to administrative litigation, with government officials reluctant to appear in court. In order to promote government compliance with law, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mandated, through the 2015 revision of the Administrative Litigation Law, that administrative officials are obligated to appear in court. This institutional reform originated from the grassroot experimentation by local judicial bodies, later adopted by the CCP and the Supreme People’s Court, leading to nationwide implementation.

Based on extensive empirical data, Professor Chen in this talk will explain the practical implications of the requirement for the Chief Officials to take the stand in administrative litigation in China. It is argued that the nationwide implementation of this requirement did not improve the compliance of administrative agencies with law. However, it did spur more litigation by citizens and bolster the authority of the courts.


Dr. CHEN Tianhao obtained his Ph.D in Public Law from Université de Bordeaux in France and is currently an Associate Professor jointly appointed by the School of Public Administration and the School of Law at Tsinghua University, China. With expertise in both doctrinal and socio-legal studies, his main areas of interests include Chinese administrative law, government contracts, and technology regulation, with research outputs appearing in several top tier academic journals in China. In particular, his several articles about characterization and doctrinal enrichment of public law contracts, or ‘administrative agreements’ as distinguished from private contracts in China, have greatly contributed to the relevant legal developments, culminating into an authoritative Supreme People’s Court’s judicial interpretation on administrative agreements in 2020. He also serves as the Deputy Director of the Government Legal Research Center at School of Public Administration and the Assistant Director at the Center for Science and Technology Development and Governance at Tsinghua University.

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