Tuesday, March 3, 2009
So said a spokesperson for the Supreme People's Court on March 2nd (Chinese | English). I'll believe it when I see it. So far the courts have simply been refusing either to accept or reject the cases brought before them, a common practice of courts faced with cases they'd rather not handle, even though it violates Art. 112 of the Civil Procedure Law, which requires a decision one way or the other within 7 days. According to the Caijing article linked below, even the SPC has been playing this game: a suit was brought directly to the SPC on Jan. 16 of this year, but it has yet to make any response.
Moreover, we have to see just how the courts will handle these suits - according to the usual principles of tort law, or according to some new and probably non-transparent policy. (A court official already told one of the lawyers filing suit, ""We have the responsibility of guiding you toward accepting the compensation plan from the companies involved ... According to our situation, we are prepared to give the same amount of compensation as the dairies.")
The SPC spokesperson announcing the new policy stated that 95% of victim's families had already accepted compensation. This may be the court's way of saying that they won't be allowed to sue, but it may have to change its mind if there's enough public pressure.