Thu, Apr 01, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lawsuit loser to face huge bill

EXPENSIVE SUIT The estimated NT$20 million cost of recounting all the votes from the March 20 presidential election will be borne by the loser, the Judicial Yuan said

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Judicial Yuan said yesterday that the loser of the lawsuit calling for an election recount would have to pay the legal cost of the case, an amount expected to be in the tens of millions of NT dollars.

"According to the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法), whoever loses a civil suit shall pay the legal fees," said Judicial Yuan Civil Department Director Yang Lung-shun (楊隆順).

"The Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選舉罷免法) states that a suit concerning arguments over the election shall also follow the Code of Civil Procedure. As a result, whoever loses the dispute this time shall pay the bill," Yang said.

Yang was responding to a question from People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) during a meeting of the legislature's Home and Nations Committee yesterday.

Lee had asked whether it was possible for the government to pay the costs of the pan-blue camp's suits seeking to suspend President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) election victory.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-PFP alliance said the Taiwan High Court should pay the cost of the suit because the suit concerns public benefits.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄), however, said the plaintiff should pay.

On Tuesday, Taiwan High Court spokesman Wen Yau-yuan (溫耀源) said judges will decide who pays.

Yang said that to recount all the ballots, at least 1,100 judges and 1,100 court clerks would be needed to oversee the process. In addition, the Central Election Commission would have to assign at least 25,000 employees to assist in the recount. It would only take one day to complete the recount.

The cost of the recount, estimated to be at least NT$20 million, would be borne by the losing party in the case, according to a Taiwan High Court judge who wished to remain anonymous.

The losing party in the case would also have to cover the cost of court hearings.

Under the recount procedure, judges of the Taiwan High Court's No. 10 election court plan to meet whenever there is a disputed ballot and determine its validity.

Wen said yesterday that judges will begin hearing the suit to suspend Chen and Lu's victory tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, the pan-blue camp said on Tuesday that it planned to refile its second suit, which is to ask the court to call the election a fraud, by the end of yesterday.

When approached by reporters yesterday afternoon, KMT spokesman Justin Chou (周守訓) said the alliance was not ready to do so, but did not provide a deadline.

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