Winning Case = Refund of Litigation Fees Immediately

By Weiwei Gu / Jess Chen

 

Foreword

 

In practice, by in large the courts in most areas will not refund the pre-paid litigation fees to the winning party until they have received the litigation fees from the losing party.  Should the losing party then fail to perform its obligation at the enforcement stage, it is not possible to implement the rule that “the losing party shall bear the litigation fees”.  Therefore, in many cases, the winning party will not only fail to get the Judgement enforced, but also fail to get the litigation fees back.

 

On April 10th, 2018, the Shanghai High People’s Court issued the Circular on the Implementation of Special Corrective Actions for Winning Party to Refund the litigation Fee (Hu Gao Fa〔2018〕No. 111) (hereinafter referred to as the “the Notice”, see Annex for details), in an attempt to resolve the issue of any “delay in the refund of litigation fees”.  This article will briefly analyze the system of “refund of the litigation fees for winning party” in connection with the relevant provisions of the Notice.

 

I  Who shall the winning party claim for the prepaid “litigation fees”?

 

In practice, many courts will not take the initiative of refunding the litigation fees to the winning party.  Instead, they require the winning party to apply to the enforcement bureau for the refunding of the litigation fees at the enforcement stage.  Whilst this is commonly seen in many courts, this practice actually contradicts the law:

 

1. The litigation fees shall be refunded by the court unless the winning party abandons such right

 

  • Article 207 of Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China(Fa Shi 〔2015〕 No.5)

 

After a judgment takes effect, a people's court shall return the litigation fees which the winning party has prepaid but shall not bear and the losing party shall pay. This is unless the winning party is willing to bear the litigation fees or agrees that the losing party will directly repay the litigation fees thereto.

 

2. The court shall refund the litigation fees within 15 days from the date on which the legal document becomes effective

 

  • Article 53 of Measures for the Payment of Litigation Fees(Order of the State Council No. 481)

 

After a case is closed, the people's court shall notify the party in writing of the detailed list of the litigation fees and the amounts payable by the parties concerned and, at the same time, state the amount payable by each party in the Judgement, ruling or mediation document..

 

Where the litigation fees are required to be refunded to a party, the people's court shall do so within 15 days from the date on which the legal document becomes effective.

 

II  What kind of "litigation fees" should be refunded?

 

In accordance with the Notice and Articles 6, 7 and 10 of Measures for the Payment of Legal Costs, the following two types of expenses are the "litigation fees" that the court should refund:

 

1. Case acceptance fee

 

These include case acceptances fees for:

 

(1) the first instance;

(2) the second instance; and

(3) the retrial case.

 

2. Application fee

 

(1) Applying for the enforcement of a legally effective decision, ruling or letter of mediation made by the people's court, the award or letter of mediation made by the arbitration institution pursuant to the law, or the creditor's right document with the enforceability illegally granted by a public notarial organ;

(2) Applying for preservation measures;

(3) Applying for a payment order;

(4) Applying for a public notice of claim;

(5) Applying for revocation of an arbitral award or for affirmation of the effectiveness of an arbitration agreement;

(6) Applying for bankruptcy;

(7) Applying for maritime injunction, general average adjustment, establishment of a fund for limitation of liability for maritime claims, maritime credit registration, or notice of claim of maritime lien; and

(8) Applying for acknowledgement and enforcement of the decision or ruling of a foreign court or the award of a foreign arbitration institution.

 

III  How to deal with the "refund of litigation fees"?

 

According to the new policy, the winning party will not need to apply for the refund of the litigation fees, and the court shall instead make the refund automatically:

 

1. At each payment stage, the court will confirm the refund account information with the parties.

 

According to the Notice, when the Case Filing Chamber receives the prepaid case acceptance fee or the prepaid application fee from the plaintiffs and the applicants, and when the Adjudication Division receive the prepaid counter-claim fees from the defendant; the Case Filing Chamber and the Adjudication Division should both explicitly advise the party to confirm their bank account information for the acceptance of the “refund fee”.

 

2. It is expected that by August 2018, the courts in Shanghai will be able to automatically transfer the refund

 

According to the Notice, the court will upgrade their existing lawsuit and refund related information management systems to achieve automatic transfer of refunds before July 31, 2018.

 

IV  Experience and Practical Insight under the New Policy

 

It has been reported that the new policies have been implemented in several intermediate courts and grassroots courts in central urban areas of Shanghai, and the winning parties will soon be able to enjoy the convenience of timely refunds.

 

1. Experience

 

In a civil case represented by this author, the successful verdict of the Shanghai Huangpu District People's Court came into effect on May 7, 2018.  The staff of the court in Huangpu Court made it clear that no litigation fees shall be jointly claimed in the enforcement application.  Instead, the presiding judge of this particular case will be responsible to deal with the issue of the refund.

 

Since the bank account information of the winning party is not available on the court system, the court still requires that a “Refund Application” be submitted to the court, which should specify the following items:

 

  • case number;
  • information of parties to the case;
  • amount of litigation fees; and
  • bank account information for refund.

 

In view of this and considering that the registration and filing of refund information in Shanghai courts of various levels are still in the process of being realized, we predict that in the current transitional period, the winning party will still need to liaise with the court and submit an application for the refund.

 

2. Practical Insight

 

With the gradual implementation of the Notice, the issue of "the winning party has to pay down the litigation fees" will no longer exist in Shanghai, and the "high litigation fee" will no longer be a concern for the creditor to consider when initiating any litigation.  Furthermore, a vast number of creditors can also take advantage of the convenience of policies to protect their interests from the perspective of cost savings using the following methods:

 

(1) Draft of the Jurisdiction Provisions: Select a district court where the concept “winning party getting litigation fees refunded” is well carried out.

 

(2) Choice of jurisdictional courts: In the case of multiple jurisdictional courts, select the one where the concept “winning party getting litigation fees refunded” is well carried out.

 

(3) Financing of litigation fees: For cases where the legal relationship is clear and the dispute is not controversial, considering that the litigation fees will be refunded after winning the case, the litigation fee for such cases can be obtained through financing.

 

AnnexThe full text of Circular on the Implementation of Special Corrective Actions for Winning Party to Refund the litigation Fee (Hu Gao Fa〔2018〕No. 111)



上海市高级人民法院关于开展胜诉退费专项整改活动的通知


沪高法[2018]111号


第一、第二中级人民法院,第三中级人民法院(知识产权法院、铁路运输中级法院),海事法院,各区人民法院及铁路运输法院,本院各部门:


为坚决落实习近平总书记关于大兴调查研究之风的重要指示精神和上海市委开展大调研的决策部署,全市法院深入开展大调研活动,在高院组织##法院联合调研组对自贸试验区的大调研过程中,一些企业反映法院存在“胜诉退费不及时”问题。


按照《最高人民法院关于适用<中华人民共和国民事诉讼法>的解释》(法释[2015]5号)第二百零七条,《诉讼费用交纳办法》第五十三条等有关规定,人民法院应当在判决书、裁定书或者调解书中写明当事人各方应当负担的诉讼费用的数额。胜诉方预交但不应负担的诉讼费用,人民法院应当自法律文书生效之日起15日内退还,但胜诉方自愿承担或者同意败诉方直接向其支付的除外。当事人拒不交纳诉讼费用的,人民法院可以强制执行。


实际操作中,由于预交诉讼费入账后需统一进国库、各部门之间工作衔接不畅、依法及时退费意识不强等原因,以及司法实践中败诉人交纳诉讼费用后再退还胜诉人等办案习惯影响,导致一些案件胜诉后诉讼费用退还周期较长,为贯彻落实上海市委大调研工作要求,高院决定在全市法院开展“胜诉退费”专项整改活动,切实增强人民群众的获得感与满意度。


一、全市法院要始终坚持以人民为中心的发展思想,坚持“统一部署、分步推进、依法整改、务求实效”的工作原则,举一反三、认真自查、细化分工、压实责任、补短板、强弱项,在严格遵守诉讼费用相关财务管理制度的前提下,争取在全国法院系统率先解决“胜诉退费不及时”问题。


二、2018年4月1日后生效的案件,全市法院应严格执行“生效后15日内退费”等法律规定,切实杜绝迟延退还胜诉方预交诉讼费用情况发生。


三、2018年1月1日至3月31日期间生效的案件,全市法院应在2018年4月30日前完成“胜诉退费”工作;2017年12月31日前生效的案件,全市法院应结合本院实际情况,综合考虑时间跨度长短、未能退费原因等因素,采取分期分批、先易后难等方式,重点关注涉民生、涉“五个中心”建设等案件,依法、足额、主动退还胜诉方当事人预交的诉讼费用。各法院的具体工作计划应于2018年5月31日前报高院审管办。


四、“胜诉退费”工作一般应当达到“一次、全案、全额”标准,即;当事人因退费问题办理手续,原则上不超过一次;符合条件的案件必须全部退还;应该退还给胜诉人的全部金额必须足额退还。退费工作应在法律文书生效之日起15日内完成。具备条件的法院,可以稳步推进由诉讼服务中心集中接待、受理、办理“胜诉退费”事务。


五、败诉当事人拒不交纳诉讼费用的,执行局应采取有效措施,规范诉讼费用执行工作,加大强制执行力度,不得就退还预交诉讼费另立执行案号。


六、高院立案庭应于2018年4月30日前在12368诉讼服务平台、律师服务平台和各法院诉讼服务中心等场所,以及受理通知书、应诉通知书等诉讼程序性通知中,增加告知“胜诉退费”有关法律规定,立案庭在原告立案预交案件受理费或申请人预交申请费时,各审判庭在被告预交反诉费时,应明确告知当事人书面确认接收“胜诉退费”的银行账号。


七、高院审管办应于2018年4月30日前会商各业务条线调整全市法院各类法律文书中诉讼费用的规范表达样式。高院审管办、行装处、信息处以及相关业务条线,档案管理部门应组织定期督查、总结、通报全市二级法院落实“胜诉退费”专项整改要求的工作情况。


八、高院信息处应于2018年7月31日前,协调相关职能部门,建立与“e号通”无缝对接的预交诉讼费退费平台,全面升级现有诉讼退费相关信息管理系统,进一步优化各流程节点的信息点设置及数据录入责任,实现相关退费信息的自动提示、自动转账,将退费信息录入作为结案流程必填项,完善信息系统中诉讼费用的查询统计功能,依托信息技术,逐步形成“主动退费、实时提醒、一键操作、全程监管”的“胜诉退费”工作新常态。


九、对此项工作应加强正面引导舆论,加大宣传力度,争取社会各界的支持与认可。同时,监察部门应加大“胜诉退费”工作的督察力度。


十、上述规定中的诉讼费用,是指当事人进行民事诉讼,行政诉讼,根据《诉讼费用交纳办法》,持法院开具的缴费凭证,向指定代理银行交纳的第一审案件受理费,第二审案件受理费,再审案件中依照规定交纳的案件受理费和根据该《办法》第十条交纳的申请费。


特此通知。


二0一八年四月十日



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