"I never expected the financial dispute mediation committee to address my concern so quickly that it would help me avoid a lawsuit," said Tsai, a Macao resident, praising a Zhuhai-based people's mediation committee for efficiently resolving a mortgage dispute between him and a pawnshop also based in Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong.
In recent years, more and more people in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) are turning to mediation as a better way to settle their financial disputes. Data shows that the mediation committee for the financial industries of nine cities in the GBA mediated 1,628 disputes in 2020, 1,377 of which were successfully resolved. The total amount of money involved reached 1.398 billion yuan ($217 million).
Because of mediation's greater flexibility, low cost and high efficiency, the Chinese government supports the cooperation between arbitration and mediation institutions in the GBA, according to an outline development plan for the area released by the Central Government in 2019.
The provincial judicial department of Guangdong also called on judicial authorities of the nine cities to channel more mediation resources to the area, and joined hands with the province's high court to work out mediation rules for cross-border commercial disputes in Guangdong's pilot free trade zone.
To advance the development of a diversified dispute resolution mechanism, the department and its Hong Kong and Macao counterparts agreed at their first joint meeting in September 2019 to set up a mediation platform for the area.
At their second joint meeting a year later, the three parties approved the establishment of a special committee in charge of mediation work in the GBA.
By the end of 2020, Guangdong had established one mediation cooperation platform for the area and 13 commercial mediation organizations, which recruit high-level legal professionals including senior lawyers, law professors and scholars to act as mediators in foreign-related disputes.
The department also launched a smart phone-based online mediation platform where people can easily access notarial services, arbitration, and judicial confirmation of mediation agreements.