Chinese courts actively contribute to epidemic prevention, economic and social development
Since the beginning of the war on COVID-19, people's courts at all levels have been performing their judicial functions to provide strong judicial services and guarantees to ensure victory, accomplish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, and achieve the critical goal of poverty elimination.
Without delay, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) immediately set up a leading group to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak and carry out all necessary work. Meanwhile, local courts across the country also put forward specific requirements for epidemic prevention and control.
On Feb 4, the SPC issued a guideline on the enforcement of court rulings during the epidemic, asking local courts to properly carry out both that work and epidemic prevention.
On Feb 24, the SPC, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the China Banking Insurance and Regulatory Commission jointly issued a notice renewing asset seal-off and freezing periods during the epidemic to ensure that work would not be affected by the epidemic.
On Jan 25, in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, a court received an urgent phone call from an agent for one of the parties to a lawsuit, requesting the release of the party’s frozen bank account. As it turned out, the party was a hospital that needed to set up a fever clinic and purchase protective equipment in accordance with the requirements of epidemic prevention. The judicial policemen on duty that night quickly contacted the plaintiff. Within only a few hours, the judge, acting in accordance with the law remotely, unsealed the account.
In Wuhan, the hardest-hit city, a local court learned that a Hubei-based construction company participating in the construction of Leishenshan and Huoshenshan hospitals, which were dedicated to the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients, was stranded in financial difficulties after its accounts were frozen by the court. Considering that the company was involved in epidemic prevention and control and with the consent of the other party the judge freed up the account in just 16 minutes, providing another timely judicial guarantee for epidemic prevention and control.
Courts at all levels have also opened up "green channels" for epidemic-related civil litigation in order to implement compulsory enforcement measures including sealing up and seizing and freezing of assets in a civilized manner. Courts in many regions have also released specific measures for carrying out the work.
The High People’s Court of Beijing has barred drugs and articles used in epidemic prevention and control from being sealed up and being subject to asset control to ensure their availability for hospitals, enterprises and personnel involved in epidemic prevention and control.
The high court in Jilin province requires lower courts to screen all enterprise-related litigation and ruling enforcements and prudently carry out or alter judicial compulsory measures under the law in an effort to ensure the normal production and operation of such enterprises.
The high court in Guangdong province, meanwhile, has specified that for institutions undertaking medical or other epidemic prevention tasks and enterprises producing and selling medical and epidemic prevention materials and daily necessities, litigation can be suspended and compulsory enforcement measures removed or altered based on parties’ request or the need of epidemic prevention.
Judicial police officers are also actively participating in epidemic prevention in communities.
On Jan 27, when the Hubei Dabie Mountain Medical Center was under construction a volunteer team consisting of judicial policemen from Huanggang Intermediate People's Court, together with other volunteers, carried supplies and assisted in the building process.
The courts at the two levels in Wuhan immediately established a liaison mechanism for epidemic prevention and control with judicial policemen devoting all their efforts to epidemic prevention and control in the hardest-hit parts of the city. Nearly 10,000 policemen from courts in Hubei went to communities to participate in joint prevention and control and distribute daily necessities to residents.
Courts all over the country have also made great effort to maintain social stability while guarding against the epidemic. Tens of thousands of judicial policemen have participated in epidemic prevention and control and gone to communities and key places to fully support grassroots organizations.
In East China’s Jiangsu, more than 10,000 judicial policemen built a judicial service grid system for epidemic prevention and tried their best to nip disputes in the bud, effectively resolving conflicts and disputes, and dealing with all cases both quickly and properly.
In Fujian province, judicial policemen with Party membership have taken the lead by working on the frontline, actively assisting local governments with epidemic prevention and control.
In Hunan province, over a thousand judicial policemen with Party membership have provided assistance to epidemic prevention and control on the frontline, participating in such work as policy publicity, body temperature measurement, material distribution, and community management.
In response to the new situation brought about by the epidemic, the SPC has mobilized and set specific rules for courts across China to promote online litigation. courts at various levels have transformed their litigation mode as well as the way they enforce court rulings, made advance arrangements for court hearings, case reception, litigation services and ruling enforcements and actively guided litigants in handling case filing, fee payment and mediation online in order to minimize mass gatherings.
On Feb 24, for example, Liao Tailin, a judge of a court in Guangdong, who was stuck in Hubei at the time, held an online court session through Shenzhen’s mobile micro court program connecting her with people's assessors, court clerks and the parties, successfully concluding a lawsuit over a loan dispute.
The epidemic has caused many difficulties in the resumption of work and production. Ensuring orderly work resumption for enterprises is now a major concern for society.
Courts at all levels, based on their judicial functions, have set out targeted measures to provide strong judicial services and security for the resumption of work and production in different regions.
The High People’s Court of Henan province has focused on urgent issues confronting small, medium and micro-sized enterprises in their work resumption process, including debt repayment, financing, employment, office leasing and the implementation of preferential policies, using its judicial power to shore up small, medium and micro-sized enterprises. The high court in Heilongjiang province has crafted a risk alert for enterprises, warning them of 50 legal risks and relevant legal grounds in five areas to help them resume work, production and normal operation. The high court in Chongqing has enacted 12 measures for epidemic prevention and social and economic development, instructing courts to take into account honesty in conducting transactions and economic stability when handling contract disputes and to encourage the performance of contracts as agreed.