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China's top court encourages greater participation in mediation for conflict resolution

China's top court has encouraged people from more walks of life to jointly solve disputes through mediation, to meet litigants' demands and promote the modernization of the country's governance system and capacity for rule of law.
"We'd like to work with more government agencies and social institutes in mediating disputes, "said Qian Xiaochen, head of the case filing tribunal with the Supreme People's Court. "We hope our joint efforts can help solve people's conflicts more efficiently and professionally."
He made the remarks at a news conference on Saturday, when the top court issued a report on multiple methods of dispute resolution.
He said the top court will extend its online mediation platform, which was established in February 2018, to grassroots areas, including villages and communities, to ensure conflicts can be found in a timely manner and be solved preemptively.
By the end of last year, all Chinese courts have connected with the platform, while mediation teams and mediators that would like to provide services on the platform have also been rapidly rising, Qian said.
As he said, the numbers of mediation teams and mediators on the platform were 1,264 and 13,791 in 2018. The numbers increased to 32,937 and 165,333 respectively in 2020.
The number of civil disputes successfully solved through mediation before litigation also rose 6.5 times within the three years, he said.
Considering some sectors where disputes often happened, such as those on traffic, securities, insurance and employment, "we'll increase coordination with relevant government departments and attract more mediators to give more targeted mediation," Qian added.
Thanks to the mediation, the number of civil cases heard by courts nationwide was 13.14 million last year, down 5.2 percent compared with 2019, he said.
In general, a dispute needs to be mediated within 30 days, "but if a dispute exceeds the time limit and litigants disagree on continuing mediation, the case must be filed with a court and put in litigation," he added.
In the past few years, the top court issued more than 30 legal documents, including guidelines and judicial interpretations, to regulate mediation. It also joined hands with some government departments to make mediation more professional, according to Liu Zheng, deputy director of the top court's reform office.
For example, the top court, with administrations, has clarified rules on how to mediate disputes concerning marriage and family, traffic accidents, intellectual property and financial insurance, he said.
He added helping residents solve disputes is the ultimate goal and responsibility of each court, calling for more government departments, industrial associations, social organizations and individuals to join the team to provide more convenient and efficient ways to resolve cases.

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