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Court cases reach record high in 2009

2010-03-12 09:14 BJT

Special Report: 2010 NPC & CPPCC Sessions |

Financial crisis, social disputes blamed for 11 million lawsuits

Beijing: The economic downturn and rising social disputes pushed the number of court cases in China to a record 11.37 million last year, stretching the country's limited judicial resources.

The cases handled by local courts experienced a 6.3 percent increase year-on-year, while the Supreme People's Court (SPC) dealt with 13,318 cases, up 26.2 percent, the country's top judge Wang Shengjun said on Thursday in his annual report to the National People's Congress (NPC).

The SPC president said the rise in the number of court cases last year was due to complicated economic and social situations.

Affected by the global financial crisis, the number of financial cases increased by 12.9 percent to 519,000 and the number of contract-related cases also jumped by 8.6 percent.

In addition, growing social disputes also added to the burden on judicial authorities. Labor dispute cases went up by 10.8 percent and cases that are directly related with people's livelihood including marriage and medical disputes also saw a 7 percent increase.

Wang said the current judicial resources cannot meet the demand and authorities need to "upgrade the judicial capabilities and support services for basic-level courts".

Figures from the SPC show that from 2005 to last year, the number of court cases increased by at least 25 percent, but the number of judges across the country remained unchanged at around 190,000.

Wang said it is necessary to ensure the funding of local courts and improve the recruitment procedures of judges to ease the tension.

More bilingual judges are also needed in the central and western ethnic areas, he said.

Song Yushui, an NPC deputy and judge with Beijing's Haidian district court, said local judges are under very heavy pressure.

She said only two judges were added from 2004 to 2009 with the court's No 5 tribunal, but the number of cases at the tribunal had climbed from 260 to 1,625 due to rapid economic and social development in the last six years.

"Ten judges are still far from enough," she said, adding that a judge may need to handle several cases at the same time.

Yang Haikun, a law professor and a CPPCC member, said the issue should receive particular attention because the burden on judges may result in an increase in faulty verdicts.

"On one hand, we should increase the number of judges and on the other, we should try to resolve conflicts to reduce the number of court cases," he said.