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More lawsuits, but fewer lost by local government

THE number of lawsuits taken out against government departments is increasing slightly while fewer departments are losing them compared to 20 years ago when local courts first handled such cases, judges said at a news briefing yesterday.

The Shanghai Higher People's Court said local courts had accepted 20,742 lawsuits against government departments in the past two decades. The number of cases rose to 2,161 last year from 271 in 1989.

"The statistics indicate citizens have higher awareness of protecting their rights and interests by filing lawsuits in recent years," said Zhang Haitang, deputy director of the court.

In the past, people didn't sue government departments because they thought government officials were more powerful, he said.

Real estate departments, public security bureaus, planning departments, social security administrations and market watchdogs became defendants most often because they were most related to the lives of citizens, he said.

As an example of a typical case he gave details of one involving a man, Lu Tingzuo, who sued a district real estate administration over a relocation decision in 2006.

Failing to reach a compensation agreement, a real estate company went to the district real estate bureau which decided Lu should move to another apartment.

The Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court rejected the decision in 2007.

During the 1990s, departments lost more than 20 percent of lawsuits every year on average. The rate decreased to around 10 percent after 2000 and was 6.7 percent last year.

"The decrease shows government departments are attaching more importance to legality in performing their duties," said Yin Yong, a senior judge with the higher court.


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