Full Text of the Guiding Case
Main Points of the Adjudication
Replies made by local people’s governments [in response to] their affiliated administrative departments’ requests for instructions are generally [a type of] internal administrative act, against which litigation cannot be initiated. However, where the administrative department directly implements the reply, generating an actual impact on the rights and obligations of the administrative counterpart,  and where the administrative counterpart is dissatisfied with the reply and initiates litigation, the people’s court should accept [the case] in accordance with law.
Related Legal Rule(s)
Article 11 of the Administrative Litigation Law of the People's Republic of China
Basic Facts of the Case
On August 31, 2010, the Land Resources and Housing Management Bureau of Lai’an County, Anhui Province submitted the Request for Instructions Concerning Recovery of the Right to Use State-Owned Land to the People’s Government of Lai’an County (来安县人民政府), requesting recovery of the right to use some land on Yongyang East Road and Tashan Middle Road in that county. On September 6, the People’s Government of Lai’an County issued the Reply Concerning Approval to Recover the Right to Use Some State-Owned Land on Yongyang East Road and Tashan Middle Road. Upon receiving the reply, the Land Resources and Housing Management Bureau of Lai’an County did not follow the law [requiring it] to prepare a [written] decision to recover the land-use rights and deliver it to the original possessors of the land-use rights, but rather directly passed the reply on to the Land Reserve Center of Lai’an County for implementation. The houses of WEI Yonggao (魏永高) and CHEN Shouzhi (陈守志) were located within the area of land for which the land-use rights were recovered. Dissatisfied with the People’s Government of Lai’an County’s reply to recover the right to use state-owned land, [WEI Yonggao and CHEN Shouzhi] initiated administrative reconsideration.  On September 20, 2011, the People’s Government of Chuzhou Municipality issued the Administrative Reconsideration Decision, upholding the reply of the People’s Government of Lai’an County. Still dissatisfied [with the decision], WEI Yonggao and CHEN Shouzhi initiated administrative litigation, requesting that the people’s court revoke the aforementioned reply of the People’s Government of Lai’an County.
Results of the Adjudication
On December 23, 2011, the Intermediate People’s Court of Chuzhou Municipality rendered the (2011) Chu Xing Chu Zi No. 6 Administrative Ruling: [the court] rejects WEI Yonggao and CHEN Shouzhi’s lawsuit. WEI Yonggao and CHEN Shouzhi appealed. On September 10, 2012, the Higher People’s Court of Anhui Province rendered the (2012) Wan Xing Zhong Zi No. 14 Administrative Ruling:
(1) [The court] revokes the Intermediate People’s Court of Chuzhou Municipality’s (2011) Chu Xing Chu Zi No. 6 Administrative Ruling;
(2) [The court orders] the Intermediate People’s Court of Chuzhou Municipality to continue  handling this case.
Reasons for the Adjudication
In its effective judgment, the court opined:  according to the procedural provisions on [establishing] state-owned land reserves through recovery in the Administrative Measure on Land Reserves and the Measure of Anhui Province on State-Owned Land Reserves, after the People’s Government of Lai’an County issued [its] reply approving the recovery of the right to use state-owned land, the administrative department in charge of land and resources in Lai’an County should have served to the original possessors of the land-use rights a notice  of the recovery of the right to use the state-owned land that took legal effect externally.  Replies made by the People’s Government of Lai’an County are generally [a type of] internal administrative act. [They] are not delivered to the counterparts and have no actual impact on the rights and obligations of the counterparts. [Therefore, these replies] generally do not fall within the scope of cases accepted [by the courts] for administrative litigation. In this case, however, after the People’s Government of Lai’an County issued a reply, the administrative department in charge of land and resources in Lai’an County failed to prepare and deliver a legal document that took legal effect externally, [but rather] directly had the Land Reserve Center of Lai’an County implement, in accordance with the reply, acts of demolition and relocation, compensation, and resettlement, generating an actual impact on the rights and obligations of the original possessors of the land-use rights. Further, the original possessors of the land-use rights became aware of the content of the reply through [their] application for making public [certain] government information, and initiated administrative reconsideration of the reply. The reconsideration organ, when rendering the reconsideration decision, also informed [them] of their right to initiate litigation. The reply had in fact been implemented and become a specific administrative act that took legal effect externally. Therefore, the People’s Court, in accordance with law, should have accepted [the lawsuit] initiated by [the original possessors of the land-use rights,] who were dissatisfied with the reply.
* The citation of this translation of the Guiding Case is: 《魏永高、陈守志诉来安县人民政府收回土地使用权批复案》(WEI Yonggao and CHEN Shouzhi v. The People’s Government of Lai’an County, A Case About a Reply to Recover Land-Use Rights), China Guiding Cases Project, English Guiding Case (EGC22), Feb. 4, 2014 Edition, available at https://cgc.law.stanford.edu/guiding-cases/guiding-case-22.
This document was primarily prepared by Sharon Cui, Oma Lee, Yuhan Liu, and Jeremy Schlosser. The document was finalized by Jordan Corrente Beck, Dimitri Phillips, and Dr. Mei Gechlik. Minor editing, such as splitting long paragraphs, adding a few words included in square brackets, and boldfacing the headings to correspond with those boldfaced in the original Chinese version, was done to make the piece more comprehensible to readers. The following text, otherwise, is a direct translation of the original text and reflects formatting of the Chinese document released by the Supreme People’s Court.
The following Guiding Case was discussed and passed by the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China and was released on November 8, 2013, available at http://www.chinacourt.org/article/detail/2013/11/id/1150468.shtml. See also最高人民法院关于发布第五批指导性案例的通知 (The Supreme People’s Court’s Notice Concerning the Release of the Fifth Batch of Guiding Cases), Nov. 8, 2013, available at http://www.chinacourt.org/law/detail/2013/11/id/147238.shtml.
 In China’s administrative law, the term “administrative counterpart” (“行政相对人”) refers to an individual or organization whose rights and interests are affected by an administrative act. See 方世荣 (FANG Shirong), 《论行政相对人》 (On Administrative Counterparts) 3-4, (中国政法大学出版社 (China University of Law and Political Science Press), 2000).
 Administrative reconsideration is a process in China that allows “citizens, legal persons, or other organizations” to apply to an administrative organ to review its lower-level administrative organ’s decisions. If a party is dissatisfied with the decision made by the administrative reconsideration organ, the party can bring an administrative lawsuit to challenge that decision unless the decision is prescribed by law to be final. See《中华人民共和国行政复议法》Administrative Reconsideration Law of the People’s Republic of China, promulgated on Apr. 29, 1999 and effective as of Oct. 1, 1999, available at http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/Law/2007-12/11/content_1383562.htm.
 Translators’ note: the term “继续” (“continue”) is used here, but “resume” is more likely the term meant.
 Translators’ note: the Chinese text does not specify which court opined. Given the context, this should be the Higher People’s Court of Anhui Province.
 Translators’ note: the term “通知” (“notice”) is used here, but “决定” (“decision”) is more likely meant.
 Translators’ note: the term “对外” (“externally”) is used here to refer to the legal effect of the notice vis-à-vis external parties.