Man wins US$21m suit against gov't
The largest compensation case that has ever been filed by a businessman against a government department has been confirmed at Guangdong Provincial Higher People's Court.
Plaintiff Chen Jinhong, a private businessman, is claiming compensation of 170 million yuan (US$20.56 million) from the Foshan Municipal Bureau of Economy and Trade.
Chen Jinhong received written confirmation Tuesday that the court would handle his case.
He said he felt confident of the outcome, although would not be drawn on the details until after a ruling has been made.
Thirteen lawyers acted for Chen, who has been chasing some sort of action for eight years.
Chen first filed a lawsuit to Foshan Intermediate People's Court on April 15, 1996.
He had invested 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) in setting up an interior decoration company in 1986, which was attached to the Foshan Municipal Bureau of Economy and Trade.
Each year, Chen paid the necessary taxes and other expenses to the bureau.
But the bureau removed Chen from his company when the firm became worth more than 62 million yuan (US$7.26 million) in March 1996.
He lost all power over his own firm and its subsidiaries.
Chen filed the first lawsuit a month later to seek compensation.
Foshan Intermediate People's Court threw out his claim in June 2000, but he immediately appealed to Guangdong Higher People's Court -- which said the case should be tried in the local Foshan Intermediate People's Court in July 2001.
A public hearing on Chen's case was opened on June 24, 2002.
Chen formally asked for the 170 million yuan (US$20.56) compensation.
In November 2002, Foshan Intermediate People's Court ruled that the Foshan Municipal Bureau of Economy and Trade had acted illegally to remove Chen from his firm, and he was reinstated -- but his claim for compensation was thrown out.
Chen again appealed the verdict, this time to both Guangdong Provincial Higher People's Court and the Supreme People's Court.
The Guangdong court upheld the ruling of the Foshan Intermediate People's Court, because Chen failed to show any proof of financial loss.
Undeterred, he appealed again to both courts after the National People's Congress passed an amended constitution.
This states that legal private and individual property is protected by law.
Local lawyer Chen Zijing believed Chen would win, but did not expect him to be granted such a large sum of money.
"It will, so far, be the largest State or government compensation in Chinese history," he added.