Levin Presents Lecture in Shanghai at Conference on Amendments to China’s Administrative Litigation Law

Ronald M. Levin, the William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law, was the featured speaker recently at an International Workshop on Amendment of the Administrative Litigation Law. The conference was held in Shanghai.

Adopted in 1989, China’s Administrative Litigation Law (ALL) provides a structure by which decisions of administrative agencies can be challenged in the courts. It is comparable to the judicial review chapter of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in the United States. The Asia Foundation and the China Law Society Administrative Law Research Association convened the conference to refine and finalize a “scholars’ draft” to amend the ALL. After revision, the draft will be submitted to the National People’s Congress for legislative deliberations.

The forty participants in the conference included many of China’s leading academic authorities on administrative law, as well as representatives of the Supreme People’s Court and the National People’s Congress.

In his lecture, Levin summarized judicial review developments of the past decade in the United States. He noted that the American system of judicial review is largely stable, but it continues to evolve through case law. He focused on Supreme Court cases in three areas: availability of review, standing to seek review, and judicial review of the merits of agency action.

"I do not expect that China will adopt anything close to the American system in the near future," he noted, "but I hope my lecture has given Chinese experts some good ideas for options to consider."

Levin also participated in discussions at the conference regarding specific proposed amendments to the ALL. He commented on the allocation of judicial business in the United States between trial and appellate courts and also on the role of public interest litigation in American administrative law.

In closing remarks at the conference, Levin encouraged the participants to press forward with their efforts, despite potential political obstacles. Administrative law reform is inherently controversial, because the stakes are high, he noted, pointing out that legislative debates over revision of the administrative process in the United States have often been protracted.

Levin is a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and a former chair of the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice of the American Bar Association (ABA).  He served as the ABAs advisor in the drafting of the 2010 Model State Administrative Procedure Act and also drafted the Sections comments on a currently pending bill to revise the federal APA.  He is the co-author of a casebook on administrative law and has written many books and articles on that subject, some of which have been translated into Chinese.