10 Dec 2018 Taiwan Legal Update: Justice Reform Breakthrough in Supreme Courts Establish Grand Chambers to Abolish Precedents & MOI Completes Draft Amendments Against Fake News
Justice Reform Breakthrough in Supreme Courts Establish Grand Chambers to Abolish Precedents
To ensure that the courts of final appeal could prevent contradictory verdicts in face of identical disputed issues in the future in order to make the overall legal order stable and predictable, and further exerting the judicial power to fulfil the function of law development, the Judicial Yuan revised and added several provisions on Court Organic Act and Administrative Court Organic Act. The bills set up Grand Chambers for Supreme Court to unify confusing legal interpretations and they were approved by Legislative Yuan on third reading on December 7. The acts are estimated to take effect 6 months after the presidential announcement.
Briefly, there are several key points of the new Grand Chamber system.
First of all, the civil courts and criminal courts of the Supreme Court shall set up the “Civil Grand Chamber” and the “Criminal Grand Chamber”; the Supreme Administrative Court shall set up “Grand Chamber”, which would count 11, 11 and 9 judges respectively elected. Except for a portion of judges designated by the President of Supreme Court, the term would be two years for the rest of the members.
Second, the Grand Chamber would resolve legal disputes by deciding the legal opinions that should be taken when submitting the case, but not supply the final ruling on individual cases. The lower courts may propose to the Grand Chamber two type of tribal affairs, which are dissenting proposals and essential principles proposals. The former shall be applied when two existed supreme court verdicts contradict to each other or when the ruling judges disagree that the previous Supreme Court judgment would suitable to apply to the case submitted by the proposal. The latter would be aimed at creating norms for new disputed issues as the judge foreseen that his or her legal opinions has the value of promoting law development, or it is necessary to set up binding effect as soon as possible since the opinion is considered as a major and universal one.
In terms of procedure, the Grand Chamber shall go through oral argument. If necessary, experts and scholars could be consulted on professional legal issues. However, experts and scholars should disclose whether the relevant professional opinions or materials are prepared or proposed in relation to the parties or their agents or defenders.
The Grand Chambers would also introduce the dissent opinions system. After the deliberation of the decision, if the members of the Grand Chambers have different opinions, they would also be published along with the judgment of the Grand Chambers.
As for validity, the ruling of Grand Chambers is binding on the case submitted by the proposal, that is, the proposal chamber should make a final judgment in accordance with the legal opinions provided by the Grand Chambers.
Most importantly, the new act will abolish not only precedents but the resolutions on the court sessions of the Supreme Court. To elaborate, if the judicial precedents of the previous selection are available in full content, the binding effect would be the same as other ordinary jurisdiction after the enforcement of the amendments. If not, the precedents and the resolutions shall cease to apply after the entry into force of this provision. To revise existed judicial opinions, the dissenting proposal procedure of the Grand Chambers shall be adopted.
Undoubtedly, the Grand Chambers system would be an evident mechanism for unifying the verdicts of the courts of final appeal, and it is also a project of paramount importance that the general public expects for judicial reform. Through the organization and operation of the Grand Chambers, it would inevitably improve the efficiency and trust of the judiciary and make the judicial system of our country better.
MOI Completes Draft Admendments Against Fake News
In view of the disturbance brought by misinformation have negative impacts on disasters relief, and considering that the diversity of sources of information affect national security as well as social security with the development of Internet technology, the Ministry of Interior(MOI) has drafted several amendments against fake news as the current regulations are out of date.
According to MOI, their Ministry Affairs Council had passed three draft amendments on December 6, which mainly aimed adjusting the amount of fines for spreading the false matter and causing harm to the society on purpose, in order to prevent the spread of untrue information, give right of receiving correct information back to the general public, and build up fair and quality environment for election at the same time. The relevant draft amendments will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review after being reported to the Executive Yuan. The summaries of the three drafts are as follows.
- For the draft amendments to Social Order Maintenance Act, believing the condition of Article 63I(5), which stipulated, “spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace”, was too abstract and unclear, the definition of the fake message would be adjusted based on previous administrative orders from Executive Yuan and the legal opinions from the court verdicts. In the meanwhile, punishments would be set for those who spread rumours and cause panic to the public deliberately. The summaries of the draft are as below.
For the draft amendments to Disaster Prevention and Protection Act Article 41, the ministry aimed to discipline the misinformation of disaster that notified or distributed in any way which harms or possible to harm the public or others and even causes casualties. The penalty could not only be fine below 1 million NT dollars or detention, but a maximum of life imprisonment or imprisonment of more than five years could be adjudicated under aggravated circumstances.
For the draft amendments to Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act, except for the deletion of reregulation on the recall shall not be publicized and shall be consistent with the existing public officials’ election dismissal rules, the amendments also stated that the Central Election Commission shall establish an electronic platform. The platform would be aimed at benefitting candidates seeking to sign the petition, clarifying the passive qualification for candidates, giving voting rights of people under guardianship, and adding regulation to prevent anti-dubbing information and foreign interference to influence the election norms.
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