Top court urges more humane enforcement for firms in lawsuits

( Updated : 2020-05-18

China's top court called for courts nationwide to be more prudent and take humanized measures when urging enterprises to carry out rulings, as a move to help them ensure resumption and overcome operation difficulties during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Many enterprises are suffering from business difficulties caused by the epidemic, such as capital chain tension and reduced orders. Under the circumstances, how to aid them by rule of law is what we should pay high attention to when dealing with their enforcement-related cases," said Liu Guixiang, member of the judicial committee with the Supreme People's Court.

He made the remark at a news conference on May 15, when issuing a guideline on better handling epidemic-related enforcement cases.

While ordering courts not to push enterprises with epidemic-related business problems to implement verdicts by excessively or improperly sealing up their properties, Liu also demanded judges to give such companies a time limit to clear off their debts instead of blacklisting them immediately when finding they have not carried out the rulings.

Individuals and enterprises on the blacklist will face many work and life restrictions as punishments for their dishonest behaviors in ruling implementation, according to the top court.

"While informing the enterprises that they have been found to have not carried out court orders, a time buffer, such as three months, will also be provided for them to take measures on their own first to solve the operation difficulties," Liu said.

These moves not only aim to help companies in lawsuits alleviate business burdens brought by the outbreak, but also to make courts' ruling implementation case handling more humanized, he added.

Due to the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, Chinese courts saw a drop of enforcement-related cases in the first three months of this year. From January to March, courts across the country saw 1.79 million filings of enforcement-related cases and concluded 986,600 of them, both down about 20 percent year-on-year, according to Meng Xiang, head of the top court's enforcement division.

But Meng said online platforms have played a bigger role in dealing with such cases during the special period, encouraging courts to further guide litigants to file cases and communicate with judges through the internet.

Since the outbreak happened, for example, courts in Zhejiang province have used a smartphone application to talk with litigants about 120,000 times and delivered 41,800 verdicts, he said.

Besides providing convenience for litigants, he also suggested judges make full use of such online platforms to search properties to improve efficiency of handling enforcement cases.