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Circuit courts help litigants save time

By YANG ZEKUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-05-23 10:13

Judicial workers carry China's national emblem on horseback during a visit to a remote village where they will host a court hearing in Madoi, Qinghai province, in December. [Photo/Xinhua]

After extensive mediation in a circuit court, a six-year conflict between three private enterprises in Maozui township in the city of Xiantao, Hubei province, was recently resolved.

When two factories started construction in 2016, they reserved a 3-meter-wide passageway for a fire escape adjacent to another building, a clothing company. However, the clothing company decided to build a wall on the space reserved for the passageway.

Over the next six years, the two factories tried to negotiate with the clothing company to remove the wall, but talks failed, so the three parties sought help from a recently established circuit court.

In April, the Xiantao People's Court set up a circuit court in Maozui's industrial garment park to provide pre-lawsuit mediation, circuit trials, legal advice and other judicial services for the over 230 enterprises there.

Considering that the three companies were all small, private enterprises in the township, Ma Min, the circuit court judge in charge of the case, sought to resolve their dispute through mediation to avoid the time and expense of a trial.

Ma inspected the factories' sites and met with the companies' leaders. She listened to their dispute and recommended mediation, which they agreed to do.

The following week, they reached an agreement for the two factories to pay 10,000 yuan ($1,500) each to the clothing company on the condition it demolish the wall.

The case is a prime example of the role Chinese circuit courts play in the judicial process. To effectively serve people's legal needs and minimize costs, circuit courts are often temporarily established where litigants are located to facilitate their participation, resolve disputes promptly and protect the people's right to a fair trial.

People's courts across the country have set up circuit courts in fields, factories, mines and forests where cases can be filed, mediation and trials can be held, and the fulfillment of verdicts can be ensured, according to the 2022 work report from the Supreme People's Court.

China has built a one-stop dispute resolution and litigation service system with the most linked resources, the most comprehensive online mediation services and the widest range of service targets in the world, creating an efficient avenue of justice for the people. The top court will keep deepening the reform and development of circuit courts to better resolve disputes on the spot, ease the filing of lawsuits and safeguard judicial fairness, it said.

The Human Rights Action Plan of China (2021-25), issued by the State Council Information Office in September, said that the State will enforce full judicial accountability, modernize the country's judicial system and capacity, and guarantee the right to a fair trial.

During the five-year period, China will improve litigation services and make them universally available, accessible, convenient, efficient, smart and targeted. Processes for filings, court proceedings, settlements and enforcement of rulings will be expedited for cases concerning vulnerable groups or infringements of citizens' fundamental rights and interests, the document said.

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