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Cross-Straits legal deal bearing fruit

Updated: 07 01 , 2015 10:41
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Increasing number of cases involving Taiwan residents being heard in mainland courts

Mainland courts handled nearly nine times as many cases involving Taiwan residents in 2014 as they did six years ago thanks to a cross-Straits agreement on mutual judicial cooperation, China's top court said on Tuesday.

Courts on the mainland and in Taiwan signed the agreement in 2009 to boost the efficiency of handling investigations, collecting evidence, delivering legal documents, approving verdicts from the other side and compensating victims, Supreme People's Court officials said.

Under the agreement, the number of cases mainland courts handled in 2014 rose to 10,678 from 1,200 in 2009, the top court said.

Most disputes between litigants in Taiwan and on the mainland involve divorce and property inheritance, followed by contract and telecom fraud. Courts in Fujian province handled most of the cases, said He Zhonglin, director of the top court's department specializing in Taiwan legal affairs.

On Thursday, Dongguan Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong province returned more than 190,000 yuan ($30,640) to 17 Taiwan victims of a telecom fraud launched on the mainland, the statement said.

Fan Yulang, the defendant from Taiwan who ran a company in Dongguan with 40 women on the mainland and 40 people in Taiwan, cheated victims by pretending to be Taiwan police officers, prosecutors or medical staff. Fan was arrested in Dongguan in October 2009, the court said.

On May 6, 2014, the Dongguan court delivered to the Taiwan legal affair department the related legal documents, including the verdict in the case and applications for transferring compensation. Now all victims have their money back, it added.

"Transferring compensation reinforces the mainland courts' judicial credibility, so we are asked to pay more attention to it under the agreement, no matter how much money is involved in a case, and to send it back to victims in a timely manner," He said.

Sun Jungong, the top court's spokesman, said that because the agreement improves cross-Straits efficiency, litigants' rights will have more protection under two new judicial interpretations issued on Tuesday.

In the past, a Taiwan resident without a mainland residence had a difficult time filing a case or an appeal, as the old judicial interpretation ruled that litigants should file a lawsuit in the court where he or she lives, Sun said.

But under the latest judicial interpretations, which will take effect on Wednesday, Taiwan litigants who have divorce or property disputes with mainland residents can appeal to courts where the defendants live or where their property is, he said.

"Legal procedures to deal with Taiwan-related disputes will be simplified on the basis of the new interpretations," he added.

In addition, the top court is making a network platform to cope with cross-Straits cases, hoping to conveniently share evidence and investigation results, He said, adding that the platform will be completed this year.

"We've received applications from Taiwan courts to question witnesses via video, but we are concerned about how to keep the transmission secure," he added.

Cross-Straits legal deal bearing fruit