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Expats and locals solve differences outside of court
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The People's Mediation Committee of Lujiazui Community at Pudong New Area drew praise from expatriates living there for the legal services it provides and the help received to solve disputes.

As the first of its kind in Pudong, the committee is now playing a leading role in allowing expats with a dispute to use mediation.

It also plans to attract foreign professionals to act as mediators in the committee.

The committee is responsible for handling disputes among residents to reduce the number of lawsuits that end up in court, according to Fu Jinsheng, chief mediator of the committee.

Since the committee was set up in January 2005, more than 100 complicated disputes have been solved, with 95-percent success rate. The committee has appointed 13 mediators, all of whom were above college level, including six who graduated with a law major.

Under the Lujiazui community mediation committee, a total of 28 committees at neighborhood level have been established. With more than 200 mediators, the neighborhood-level committees cover all residential areas of the Lujiazui Community.

"About four foreign law professionals have already acted as mediators handling disputes at the neighborhood level, especially for those expats living in the community," said Fu.

Fu said there were about 2,200 expats living in the Lujiazui Community. At the Yanlord Garden property, about 40 percent residents are expats from more than 50 countries.

"The mediation committee has proven to be very practical in resolving disputes among expats," said Fu.

He said the case of Zhou illustrated the success of mediation. Zhou worked as an ayi for a German family living in Yanlord Garden for more than one year. When the family returned to Germany for a holiday in March, the German employer recommended Zhou's services to a German friend.

In the month when the family was away, Zhou was responsible for cleaning their house and expected to receive 1,700 yuan (US$226) for one month of salary upon their return.

However, the family said they would pay just 500 yuan.

With the help of German mediator Eva, the family agreed to pay another 800 yuan to Zhou and the two parties signed a mediation agreement in both Chinese and German.

(Shanghai Daily October 22, 2007)

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