2018-10-15

Judge Disqualified for Pressuring Plaintiff to Voluntarily Drop Action

Judge Lai of the Taiwan High Court-Civil Appeals (臺灣高等法院民事庭) was disqualified after requesting a plaintiff to voluntarily drop an action and threatening to file a criminal complaint against the plaintiff when presiding over an action in which Plaintiff was demanding repayment. The other judges of the same court ruled to disqualify Judge Lai after Plaintiff filed a motion for disqualification of the Judge. Due to the extreme difficulty in successfully filing for a judge disqualification ruling, such rulings are very rarely seen in Taiwan.

Pursuant to the complaint of the motion, Plaintiff, a technology company, initiated this action to demand repayment from the defendant. However, during the second instance at the Taiwan High Court-Civil Appeals, Judge Lai, assigned to this case, continually pressured the plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss the action, stating "the defendant has had no property, so drop the demand", and "do not use the Court as a place for dunning". Judge Lai, moreover, even investigated Plaintiff's balance sheet and then threatened to file a criminal complaint against Plaintiff's representative and accountants, as they had not correctly registered the record of Defendant's debt on their balance sheet. For these reasons, Plaintiff filed the motion for disqualification of Judge Lai.

According to the ruling of the Taiwan High Court, although the audio court recordings did not show that Judge Lai had made such statements, which Plaintiff alleged, the panel of judges found some pauses and breaks in two of the audio court recordings, and the Judge Lai admitted that she had asked Plaintiff whether the action was necessary, as Defendant already had no property. In addition, Judge Lai's focus on the criminal acts investigation against Plaintiff during the trial exceeded the limit of a civil judge's function and power. The panel of judges, therefore, determined that Judge Lai did perform her functions impartially, and granted Plaintiff's motion for the disqualification of Judge Lai.
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