'Court for small claims' - contact info and procedures

Well, after 2 registered letters, the individual who owes me money has failed to come up with a plan for payment, so now we will be off to court…problem is, which court do I file in? The debt was contracted in Hsinchuang City, and I was resident in Sanchong at the time, although my “official” address was in Taipei at the time. I’ve been using the Sanchong address for correspondence related to the case up until now. Debtor (also a foreigner) was and still is resident in Hsinchuang City.

Can anyone point me to the right court to file?

[quote=“ironlady”]Debtor (also a foreigner) was and still is resident in Hsinchuang (Xinzhuang) City.

Can anyone point me to the right court to file?[/quote]

You need to go to the Panchiao District Court. When you tell the Court the amount of your claim it will direct you to the appropriate division (Small Claims or Normal District Court). I’m home sick today and I cannot remember what the amount limit is… but no matter… the Court will advise.

I believe that standard practice is to file the suit in the District Court in the location of the debtor’s residence.

I have an information sheet on this which I could snailmail you. Give me your snailmail address via an email to richard@forumosa.com

Does a court similar to the above exist in Taiwan?

Please provide contact details and procedures.

What are the monetary limitations ito claim values?

I would like to confront the landlord in more formal settings after being defrauded.

Thank you.

Juane Reichert

You need to go to the Banqiao District Court. When you tell the Court the amount of your claim it will direct you to the appropriate division (Small Claims or Normal District Court).

Does a small claims court in Taiwan have the authority to issue a court order (other than monetary compensation), e.g. for the return of property? And if so, is such an order enforceable?

I lent someone (who has also posted on Forumosa) a mint-condition scholarly book several years ago and the individual has not responded to repeated requests (polite at first, and then insistent) that he return it. It is out of print as a harcover book, and I have been unable to find a HC copy among the online used book dealers. It is a book of some value to me personally. Although I currently have the option of buying a softcover replacement, I do not find that satisfactory.

Since I’ve been unable to find a replacement online, I cannot assign a fair replacement value, but it will likely cost me about three to five times the original price to replace it, if and when I do find another very good + HC.

If I have not received it within, say, 2 weeks from this date I wish to sue for an order of the return of the property plus court fees. Of course suing for additional damages would be nice but I doubt that’s an option.

Any advice on 1) suing to get a court order, 2) how to claim replacement value when no market price is available at present, 3) what steps to take if the book is returned but not in its original condition, and 4) enforceability? 5) Do I need to send a formal letter requesting return of the property to prove I’ve requested it? I have witnesses already. How would one go about using the "cunzheng xinhan (Post Office Evidentiary letters) " which Ironlady referred to in another thread?

  1. Finally, the individual is living in an illegal rooftop, with no mailbox and no applicable mailing address. Does anyone know whether the court would accept his work address for notification purposes?

Many thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

Someone won’t return a borrowed BOOK and you’re asking about taking him to COURT?
I’ll be looking at this one with interest. Someone who shall remain nameless borrowed my DVD of Bend it Like Beckham and if this court business works for old Dragonbones I’ll be going the same road. For SURE!

I ABSOLUTELY want the book back and he has refused to return it. I’ve asked nicely, I’ve asked firmly, and I’ve demanded its immediate return. None of these resulted in its return.

It is of personal value to me and it is out of print. I may not be able to replace it, you see. And then there is the principle of the matter. Yes, I am perfectly willing to sue if that’s what it takes.

I can either do nothing and burn up with anger, follow my gut instinct to get violent (and probably end up in jail) or take legal action. What other choices do I have? :s So legal action it is.

Its just a book. Surely the simplest thing is just for the guy to say “Not me. Nope. Never heard of this book. Sorry.” What kind of proof do you have that he ever had the book? You don’t do receipts when you lend out books, do you?

I have witnesses.

They’re lying, your honour. I’ve never seen his book, far less borrowed it.

My assumption is that the courts will decide based on the weight of the evidence, and witnesses are evidence. If you have specific legal advice on the points I raised, feel free to provide it.

Just sounds like a frivolous lawsuit to me. That’s all. Taking someone to court over a borrowed book. Kind of stuff you read about in the news of the weird section of the tabloids.

People have a legal right to the return of money or property which has been borrowed, and the courts are a perfectly legitimate venue for the enforcement of such rights. If you think it’s frivolous because the size of the claim is small, then you apparently don’t understand the meaning of the term frivolous. Small claims court is specifically to address legitimate claims such as this which are small in value.

I understand perfectly well what frivolous means. And I think you’ll find it difficult to get yourself taken seriously by a court over a claim of a borrowed book. Why not just go round his house and save yourself the bother?

If our legal heavies agree with you, then I’ll take this comment seriously. Thanks for your opinion.

Listen, I’m trying to stay on topic with procedures and advice that will be relevant to other posters in the future – this thread is for “contact info and procedures”, and I have asked for specific advice on the latter.

The individual in question does not respond to attempts to contact him, and his home is incredibly far away. He would be likely, given his current attitude, to just slam the door in my face, in which case I would probably end up in jail for my reaction. Much better to go the legal route. Procedural legal advice please.

Turns out that the courts here take such cases quite seriously (there is apparently no lower limit to monetary claim values), and the procedure is not too godawful if you speak Chinese and have a local friend who can accompany you to help fill in paperwork in legalese if needed. [u]The case must be filed in written Chinese, and as Hartzell correctly stated, in the district court closest to the residence of the defendant.

You’ll need the defendant’s address for the paperwork. [/u] It doesn’t hurt if you’ve sent correspondence to the defendant via postal evidentiary mail (郵局存證信 you2ju2 cun2zheng4xin4) stating the details of your case and as a final written request, with deadline, for the return of your property or reimbursement, although I don’t know how much weight such a letter carries. That has to be in Chinese, by the way. Written IOU’s (with translation if needed) and Chinese-speaking witnesses are very valuable too, so if you lend anything to anyone and want legal protection, be sure to get a written IOU. I realize a lot of people feel awkward about that, but you can use IOU’s as a reminder of where your books or CDs are, and not just as legal evidence, so I think it’s reasonable to ask for one. :idunno:

Anyway, once the case is filed, you’ll be notified by mail of a court date for ‘tiao2jie3 調解’ (mediation), during which you will be asked to sit down face to face with the defendant, and a mediator will start speaking to you and trying to get you to settle out of court. Ours began speaking in Taiwanese, but we convinced him to switch to Mandarin. :laughing:

My previous understanding was that if mediation failed, a court date would then be set. However, to my surprise, the mediator sent the case directly to the courtroom (thank heavens I actually brought my witness that day), and after a 40-minute wait, the judge heard our case. [u]So be aware that the mediation date might turn into a court date if the judge’s caseload permits. Bring your evidence and witnesses.

[/u]Had I known that, I would have brought evidence of the value of the book (around NT$8500, btw) with me that day. Since I didn’t, we had to go back again in a week with that evidence for the assessment of damages. I brought professional evidence (in English) of the book’s value, and the judge was willing to accept it as long as I walked him through it (easy enough, with the book title and value estimate highlighted). The defendant was unable, despite being given an extra week and an additional court date, to produce evidence of a lower value, so the judge was ready to decide in my favor (and stated so).

The lesson is that evidence and witnesses are key. Even if your evidence isn’t bulletproof, the case will be decided on what evidence there is, so bring what you have.

The strange thing is that the system here REALLY focuses on trying to get an out of court settlement, so each time we showed up in court, the bailiff took us into negotiation; and even right before the verdict, the judge pretty much twisted the defendant’s arm into settling with me for about 2/3 of what I was asking – perhaps this is part of the face-saving emphasis in the culture?

Another thing I learned is that once the fact of borrowing money or objects is established, the burden of proof is on the borrower to show that it has been returned, according to the judge during yesterday’s court session. “They’re lying, your honour – I returned it long ago” didn’t get the defendant anywhere with this judge, as the presumption is that the lender wouldn’t be suing if the property had been returned.

So if you lend anything and want legal protection, get an IOU and/or have a witness, and if you return anything and want legal protection, be sure to get a written receipt and/or have a witness documenting its return.

In our case, the judge got us to agree in his presence to a settlement of about 2/3 of what I was asking for, and I agreed because I thought the defendant was going to appeal the case and make it drag on further just to be stubborn. By settling, he committed in writing to pay within 10 days, and the judge informed me that if the defendant failed to pay I could then file to garnish his salary.

The final chapter in this saga was that the judge came out into the center of the courtroom at the end because he wanted to shake our hands. He was obviously tickled pink that he’d had foreigners in his courtroom. :laughing: