IN 2017, over 400,000 lawsuits were recorded in Shenzhen, however, there were only 11,300 lawyers to defend these lawsuits in the courts, according to Jiang Xilin, head of the Shenzhen Municipal Justice Bureau.
Faced with the prominent problem, Shenzhen Qianhai Cooperation Zone People's Court offered a solution by appointing 88 lawyers from 15 law firms across Shenzhen, including 22 lawyers from Hong Kong or with foreign nationalities, to participate in pre-lawsuit mediation. The signing ceremony was held Nov. 7 at Vanke International Convention Center in Qianhai.
"Such a practice aims to give full play to the roles and advantages of lawyers in preventing and resolving disputes," said Ye Qing, vice president of the Qianhai court.
Approved and recommended by the city's justice bureau and the Shenzhen Lawyers Association, the lawyers all have five or more years' experience practicing law with professionalism and excellent work ethics. The court will set up a roll of lawyer mediators based on different legal fields, such as civil affairs, common commercial disputes, intellectual property rights and foreign-related commercial disputes.
According to the Provisions on the Implementation of Lawyers' Mediation Work introduced by the Qianhai court, Hong Kong lawyers will first be designated to mediate civil and commercial cases applicable to the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), on which the litigants have agreed.
Additionally, these lawyers can, according to the will of both parties, resolve disputes in accordance with the laws of other countries, the Hong Kong and Macao SARs and Taiwan, international conventions, international common practices or universal mediation rules.
To improve the efficiency of litigation mediation, lawyers can utilize the online mediation platform, email and WeChat to exchange materials with the courts before mediation and to communicate with litigants to reach an agreement by the online mediation platform, video and phone. The court will continue to improve the intelligent mediation auxiliary system to simplify mediation procedures.
Considering the fact that most of the lawsuits in Qianhai are related to business, Hu Zhiguang, president of Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, suggested that lawyers abide by the market rules in order to guarantee that the practice is sustainable.
Hu hopes the Qianhai court will introduce incentive measures to attract more lawyers to become part of the mediation process, thus creating a favorable business environment for Shenzhen.
Jiang thinks highly of the practice of combining mediation with trial. "It's a win-win situation. Having lawyers participating in mediation will not only facilitate a less hostile resolution of disputes, but will also improve the lawyers' professional abilities in the process," he said.
In September, the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice jointly published Views on Conducting Trial Work on Lawyers' Mediation, and decided to implement the trial in 11 provinces and municipalities directly under the Central Government.