Full Text: Judicial Reform in China (31)

(Xinhua)

15:04, April 17, 2013

3. Establishing Multiple Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

In response to the frequently occurring conflicts and disputes in a period of rapid social development, in 2010 the legislative organ of China promulgated the Law of the People's Republic of China on Mediation, and relevant department issued Several Opinions on Establishing and Improving Conflict and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms by Linking Litigation and Non-litigation Cases and Guidelines on Encouraging the Use of Mediation to Solve Conflicts and Disputes. They encourage the development and improvement of non-litigation dispute resolution mechanisms, thus establishing multiple dispute resolution mechanisms suited to the national conditions. Provisions such as mediation should be used first and mediation agreements shall be accepted by judicial organs are added to the Civil Procedure Law amended in 2012, reaffirming the achievements in judicial reforms.

Giving play to people's mediation. People's mediation is a Chinese way for resolving non-litigation disputes. China has established people's mediation committees in village (neighborhood) committees, townships or towns (urban districts), enterprises and public institutions, as well as industries and sectors with a high frequency of occurrence of disputes. By the end of 2011, China had 811,000 people's mediation organizations and 4.336 million mediators. In 2011, a total of 8.935 million conflicts were resolved through mediation, with a 96.9% resolution rate.

Giving play to administrative mediation. Out of the volition of the parties involved, an administrative organ may mediate administrative disputes under its jurisdiction and civil disputes relating to its functions and powers, enabling the parties concerned to reach agreement through consultation on an equal footing. Such mediation is conducive to the timely and reasonable settlement of disputes.

Giving play to judicial mediation. A people's court shall, according to its functions and powers or at the request of the involved parties, mediate civil cases lodged to it and resolve disputes under the presiding of a judge. In 2011, the people's courts in China mediated 2.665 million civil cases and had 1.746 million cases withdrawn by the parties after mediation. The people's procuratorates have established and improved a mechanism to link prosecution with mediation. With respect to a minor criminal case or a civil appeal that meets certain requirements, a people's procuratorate will ask a people's mediation organization to mediate first before it makes a decision in accordance with the law on the basis of the mediation result to jointly resolve the conflict or dispute.

Strengthening conflict or dispute resolution mechanisms by linking litigation and non-litigation cases. Highlighting the role of people's mediation organizations, social groups, lawyers, experts and arbitration agencies, China endeavors to establish a "large mediation" work system that integrates people's, administrative and judicial mediation, and improves coordination among the three in terms of procedure linkage, validity confirmation and legal guidance. As for non-litigation dispute resolution mechanisms like arbitration, the people's courts respect their own rules and provide support in such aspects as evidence and property preservation, and compulsory execution.

Improving litigation procedures for cases of public prosecution involving conciliation between the parties. For some minor crimes arising from civil disputes and for negligent crimes (excluding dereliction of duty) that may be given sentences of less than seven years, when criminal suspects or defendants repent of their crimes and obtain the forgiveness of the victims through such means as compensation for losses or apologies, and the victims wish to be reconciled with the perpetrators on a voluntary basis, both parties may be reconciled. For cases in which the parties concerned reach conciliation agreements, the people's procuratorate may recommend lenient penalties to the people's courts; and for minor crimes that do not entail criminal punishment, the people's procuratorate may issue non-litigation decisions. The people's courts may give a lenient penalty to defendants in accordance with the law.

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