The lack of legal literacy and awareness among the population poses a major challenge to the process of transforming the People’s Republic of China into a nation grounded in the rule of law. Citizens avoid courts due to the highly uncertain outcome of trials and due to a lack of knowledge of the law and their rights in court. In addition, lawyers often do not adequately fulfil their role as mediators between the law and society. The professionalization of legal professions, including lawyers, is a declared objective of ongoing legal reform in the People’s Republic of China and the number of lawyers has grown to over 270,000 in recent years. However, big challenges remain when it comes to ensuring the quality of lawyer services.
The objective of the field of activity is to increase the awareness of individual citizens for their rights and to strengthen the various ways available of upholding these in court. Only if rights are asserted, can the practicability and efficiency of a legal system be put to the test. A decisive aspect in this context is the support for and training of lawyers and the provision of advisory services to the Chinese government on further development of the system for an organised legal profession.
The partner of the field of activity is the Chinese Ministry of Justice, which is the leading body in dissemination of the law. In addition, there is a cooperation arrangement with the All China Lawyers Association, which is responsible for the education and training of lawyers.
As a direct measure for fostering legal awareness, the Sino-German Legal Cooperation programme is producing legal guides and manuals detailing the first steps that those seeking legal assistance need to take, as well as lists of contacts. Based on an introductory explanation of the law, consumers learn about their rights and duties and can acquire a rough idea of their risk of losing a case.
With a view to strengthening the legal profession, the Sino-German Legal Cooperation programme offers education and training courses for lawyers. These efforts focus on teaching judicial practice methods intended to ensure consistent legal findings. Moreover, the programme supports the All China Lawyers Association in its initiative to improve the system of quality assurance and in its cooperation arrangements with German institutions. The Sino-German exchange for lawyers project initiated in 2015 fits into this mandate.