Judges in China are civil servants. As is the case for all government officials in the country, Chinese judges undergo regularly scheduled quantitative performance assessments. After first implementing a pilot program, the Supreme People’s Court introduced a nationwide initiative – the Case Quality Evaluation System (CQAS or 案件质量评估体系) – in 2011.

The two principal metrics of CQAS are efficiency (case disposition rates) and accuracy (low levels of reversal on appeal). However, the system includes reference to public satisfaction surveys. Assessments are made public, a process that promotes transparency but also leads to peer group pressures. They are carried out annually and administered by the court one level above in the judicial hierarchy. Court presidents are held accountable for the performance of their judges, based upon comparisons with local court performance rates.

A judge’s career trajectory is determined by the ability to meet assessment targets. Judges are rewarded for strong performance through promotions and bonuses. Sanctions for underperformance include mandatory training, adjustment to grade or salary, and dismissal. Critics of the CQAS system note that it fails to acknowledge aspects of judging that cannot be quantified and ignores the inherent tension between speed and accuracy.