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Court pushes for more mediation
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Mediation should be further promoted to resolve civil cases involving marriage, family inheritance, housing, and disputes among neighbors, a senior official with the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said yesterday.

"We want to apply such a practice to more civil cases to resolve disputes instead of litigation," Shen Deyong, executive vice-president of the SPC, told a symposium in Beijing yesterday.

Since June this year, mandatory mediation has been used in courts on a trial bases in the provinces and municipalities of Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Hebei, Gansu, Chongqing and Shanghai.

"It has proved to be very effective and efficient in handling civil disputes," Shen said.

Last year, about one-third of 5 million civil cases dealt by the courts were resolved through non-mandatory judicial mediation.

"Judicial mediation as an alternative dispute resolution has not only greatly helped limited judicial resources, but also lowered the costs for litigants," Shen said.

Mediation can be held before, during and even at the conclusion of a hearing, he said.

In many cases assistant judges will hold pre-trial mediation talks with litigants. The courts will also seek the assistance of special mediators, Shen said.

These specialists could be from commercial associations, law and insurance companies.

Courts are overburdened with a growing number of civil cases.

Cases involving labor, contract and intellectual property right disputes increased by 30, 50 and 150 percent, respectively, from 2002-2007 compared to the previous five-year period.

Dongguan Intermediate People's Court of Guangdong, for example, dealt with a total of 53,800 cases last year. Last week, the figure had already reached 65,500.

Ye Liudong, president of the Dongguan court, said more than half of the 1,652 cases dealt with by its Chang'an tribunal were resolved through mediation last year.

(China Daily November 21, 2008)

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