The standing committee of the National People’s Congress has moved to ban the monitoring of meetings between defense attorneys and criminal suspects. According to state media, the legal amendment – passed during the committee’s five-day, bi-monthly meeting – makes it easier for lawyers to obtain evidence from criminal suspects. Lawyers will be able to conduct these unmonitored face-to-face meetings once the authorities have completed initial interrogations and also have access to materials relating to the case. Other laws passed by the standing committee included provisions to ensure that urban and rural development plans take into account the need to protect the environment and preserve China’s cultural heritage. Meanwhile, an amendment to the Civil Procedure Law, which increases fines for those who refuse to execute a civil court ruling, is intended to reduce the number of rulings that are unenforced. In 2006, 2.13 million civil case rulings were not carried out, state media said.