Tourism courts provide one-stop solutions for conflict
There is an old saw in China: 'Turn to the police when you are in trouble.' However, sometimes that isn't a practical way of handling disputes.
"Compared with judges, we are not good at legal explanations, especially in cases involving financial matters," said Xiong Da, an officer at Ciping Police Station in Jinggangshan. He welcomed the help provided by Liang's team, saying it has assisted many tourists who asked for a judicial official to rule on their dispute.
"Under China's criminal law, it was hard to file some cases where tourists reported the theft of small sums of money. They always asked the operators of scenic spots to help them find the money or even refund it, though sometimes they had just mislaid the cash. I think, judicial officials are better able to explain each side's responsibilities in such cases," he said.
Zhou Jianhua, director of the Law Enforcement Department for Scenic Spots at the Jinggangshan Management Bureau, agreed with Xiong.
"Before, many tourists complained to us when they had conflicts with operators of scenic areas, such as those involving ticket prices or personal injury, but our lack of deep knowledge of the law meant we had difficulty explaining how much compensation they should receive," he said.
"Now, the officials on the scene can explain exactly how much should be paid, which gives tourists a point of reference if they choose to bring a lawsuit, and also reduces the burden on us."
Deng said: "When a dispute happens, the tourists want to know who is right, who should shoulder most responsibility and how much compensation should be paid. These questions need clear, quick and professional answers based on the law, which is the job of the judiciary."
He regards every successful mediation as a legal lesson for operators and travel agencies: "The more regulated the tourism market is, the fewer disputes will occur."
In 2017, he handled a dispute in which a laborer attempted to sue a scenic spot operator after sustaining a fracture while painting walls in the area.
Deng's investigations discovered that the injury had been caused by the laborer's own carelessness.
However, having taken into consideration the fact that the man's injuries required medical attention, and the efforts he had made to complete the job, Deng called the two sides together to explain their legal responsibilities. He suggested that they resolve the problem via mediation, rather than litigation.
"If the laborer had insisted on litigation, he might have lost the case, while the operator of the scenic spot would have spent a lot of time on the judicial process," Deng said.
He added that the laborer accepted his suggestion that the operator should pay him several thousand yuan in compensation and improve safety measures at the scenic spot.