It can happen that sometimes you have a personal dispute with a family member, friend or neighbour, or a legal dispute involving business. There are three main ways as alternatives to going to court to resolve a dispute in China: negotiation, mediation and arbitration, they are ADR. ADR means “Alternative Dispute Resolution” and it refers to various processes, commonly used in civil law tradition, which have in common the aim of a better communication between the parties during a dispute and the saving in managerial and legal time, expense and worry (Bevan, 1992).
We can clearly distinguish the advantages of the ADR, comparing to the formal dispute settlement at court. ADR processes are quicker, as they can be arranged within days or weeks rather than months or years (example of one case in litigation). They are also less expensive, as earlier settlements save managerial time and they are confidential. They are voluntary, which means that the parties are free to walk out every time without interfering the legal procedures and their rights (Bevan, 1992). Mediation, one of the most used ADR, involves a neutral third party, called a mediator, to help the disputing parties to reach an agreement. Mediation in China has been existed in China for more than 2,000 years. It was used in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1146 BC-771 BC) and then used during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC). There was always a preference for mediation throughout all the history of Imperial China. The mediation system and the legal system were developed together after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. People's Mediation Committees appeared during this period, helping local people to resolve civil disputes and to preserve harmony in the society.
However, the Mao's economic reforms have brought some physical and social changes of the Chinese cities. Reforms have promoted the development of the legal system and other formal legal institutions. They have also permitted more individual freedoms, since the decentralization of the political control. Moreover, the fast-growing economic developments, the modernization and the Westernization have led to the apparition of new cities which advocate the ideas of individualism, competition and private space, ideas totally at the opposite of the Chinese traditional culture which advocates the social harmony in community and society.
In my essay, I will try to answer to this question:
To what extent the role of the People's mediation committees in China now is still significant when some cities tend to modernize and others tend to conserve traditionalism?
First, I will present the evolution of the traditional Chinese legal system to the contemporary Chinese legal system. Second, I will focus on the case of mediation, one Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the People's Mediation Committees. And finally, I will explore the importance of the teachings of Confucianism in the evolution of mediation.
I. From traditional Chinese legal system to contemporary Chinese legal system Chinese history, even in the last century, has gone through several events which have affected the development of its judicial system. Conscious that traditional Chinese law was backward and that a Western legal system, more modern, would improve a lot the development of Chinese society, Mao attempted to establish a modern legal system based on rules and law in 1949 (Utter, 1987). The Communist Party recruited first former nationalists, who knew all about the Western legal systems: “To staff the new legal system, the Communists retained a number of legal specialists who had worked for the Nationalists, primarily because the Communists did not have within their own ranks people with skills and knowledge to run a complex legal system”, but they were completely “politically unreliable and elitist” (Utter, 1987). The Party then replaced them by “new cadres” selected for their political allegiance to the...
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