Recently, the Supreme People’s Court issued the Circular on Measures for Providing Judicial Services for More Integrated Cross-Strait Developments (the “Measures”) to comprehensively provide equal protection to the interests of Taiwan compatriots, promote cross-strait economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation, more integrated cross-strait developments, and formulate relevant measures. This primarily covers the protection of the right to litigate, providing quality judicial services, improving service safeguard mechanisms, and promoting cross-strait judicial exchanges. The Measures are highlighted below:
1. Protection of right to litigate
Pursuant to the Measures, not only are the physical rights and litigation rights of Taiwan compatriots protected, both Taiwanese individuals and enterprises that are involved in disputes involving equal treatment of national benefits, subsidies, rewards, incentives and access will be handled by the people’s courts if it concerns a subject matter within the courts’ jurisdiction and meets the requirements for making a complaint.
Where the people’s court orders measures such as detention, house confinement, or arrest against a Taiwanese party, the people’s court shall notify the family members of the Taiwanese party within 24 hours; and if the people’s court is incapable of notifying the family members, it may notify the employer or the school that the Taiwanese party goes to in the mainland.
In terms of the application of law, if it is determined, in accordance with the provisions of the state laws and judicial interpretations on the choice and application of law, that the civil and commercial laws of the Taiwan area may apply, they shall be applied. However, if such civil and commercial laws of the Taiwan area violate the basic principles of the state laws and social and public interest, they shall not be applied.
In addition, the Supreme People’s Court also sets rules concerning intellectual property rights, compulsory measures, visitation application, application of criminal penalties, service of judicial documents, and collection of evidence.
2. Providing quality judicial services
With respect to the provision of judicial services, the Supreme People’s Court is asking for improvements to the litigation process before, during and after for cases involving Taiwan elements, as well as providing convenient and efficient judicial services to Taiwan compatriots. The Supreme People’s Court also pointed out that a people’s court with more Taiwan-related cases may set up a dedicated desk for processing those cases.
Meanwhile, the Measures also cover the scenario that if Taiwanese parties apply for judicial relief and legal aid, they shall provide the relevant materials demonstrating economic difficulties. If it is difficult for the Taiwanese party to provide the household registration, the agency issuing the Taiwan resident residence permit, the local village (residential) committee of the Taiwanese party’s habitual residence in the mainland, or their work units or schools in the mainland may be recognized in accordance with relevant regulations.
3. Promoting sound service safeguard mechanisms
For service safeguarding, the people’s courts that handle more Taiwan-related cases may set up a dedicated litigation and mediation chamber, as well as trial divisions and enforcement groups, all of whom shall be responsible for handling cases involving Taiwan elements. A court that does not set up a special trial and enforcement groups may designate relatively fixed personnel to hear and enforce Taiwan-related cases. In addition, the Measures also looked at the establishment of a comprehensive trial division for Taiwan-related cases for focus on civil, criminal and administrative trials involving Taiwan elements. As a result, continuous improvements shall be made to the institutional mechanisms so as to facilitate Taiwan compatriots to conduct litigation, safeguard their rights, and resolve disputes in new types of courts such as Internet courts, intellectual property courts, and financial courts, Judicial interpretations, precedential cases, regulatory documents and classic cases in connection with Taiwan will be released in time, and the establishment of a trial and control committee system for Taiwan-related cases will be explored to unify the standards and criteria for adjudicating Taiwan-related cases.
4. Promoting cross-strait judicial exchanges
The Supreme People’s Court also pointed out that eligible Taiwan compatriots may serve as people’s jurors in Taiwan-related cases, and training will be provided to ensure better performance of their duties. Taiwan compatriots may also be recruited to serve as supervisors and liaisons of the people’s courts as well as specially invited mediators, family investigators, counselors, probation inspectors, court volunteers, etc. Moreover, qualified Taiwan compatriots may be recruited as consultants, experts or appraisers for Taiwan-related trials involving intellectual property rights, ecology and environment, health care, maritime affairs, finance, and the Internet; those who have in-depth knowledge and influence in relevant legal fields may be hired to serve as expert members of the International Business Expert Committee.
The Measures also specified that local people’s courts at various levels may in accordance with the spirit of the Measures, promulgate specific implementation measures in light of the local conditions. The Higher People’s Court of Fujian Province may begin planning and implementation pursuant to the pilot policies formulated by the central government. Therefore, Taiwanese enterprises and their related personnel who are involved in legal disputes in the mainland may stay apprised of the aforementioned preferential policies to obtain better legal protection.