Mediation, not trials, can help settle rising disputes

08:20, June 29, 2010      

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Mediation must precede trials as the first attempt to solve disputes, with the hopes of addressing emerging social conflicts more quickly and efficiently, the country's top court has mandated.

The requirement, which was the theme of a guideline released on the website of the Supreme People's Court on Monday, urges further implementation of mediation.

The guideline came on the heels of the legislators' review of China's first draft law on mediation last Tuesday.

"Our country is currently in a time of many social conflicts. The task to maintain social harmony and stability is tremendous and onerous," the guideline says.

When briefing the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the country's top legislative body, on the draft mediation law, Minister of Justice Wu Aiying also said that various kinds of social conflicts are emerging.

Unresolved civil disputes have resulted in school attacks and mass incidents across China in recent years.

The guideline requires local courts to develop a deep comprehension of the "unique advantage and important value" of mediation in addressing social conflicts, maintaining social stability and promoting a harmonious society.

The mediation efforts should be focused on the following types of cases: those that relate to people's livelihoods and mass interests; those that possibly undermine social stability; those that are sensitive or receive extensive public attention; or those that involve petitions.

Therefore, the emphasis should be shifted away from trial to mediation, for the repairing of relations among parties and the promotion of harmony, according to the guideline.

It also says mediation should expand from civil to minor criminal cases and administrative cases.

"Trials may lead to appeals and repeated petitions, so it is not the best way to dissolve conflicts," Zhao Ling, deputy presiding judge of the civil courtroom under Chongqing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, told China Daily.

She said the number of trials the court received has been increasing at an annual rate of 100 percent in recent years, caused mostly by the fast economic development in the city.

"However, mediation is the most direct, effective, simple and time-saving way to achieve the goal," she said.

"Because both sides must agree to the decision, mediation does not incur forced enforcement. Conflicts end with mediation."

The guideline encourages local officers to carry out sincere mediation efforts with the involved parties, and with a willingness to address their difficulties and get things done.

Source:China Daily


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