Put an end to litigation nation
A friend asked me if I knew an attorney specializing in traffic accidents as he would like to sue the insurance company of the other driver. When I spoke with a lawyer, he said that a victim in a traffic accident can get more compensation if he sues. Just as the market price and the appraised value differ in real estate, the insurance policy and the decision of the judge can vary, he said. I thought it is only natural that people choose to take legal action rather than settling it out of court.
When I was a junior reporter, I used to spend most of my days with cops at police stations. I befriended older police officers. But I overlooked the frustration and grudges that the accusers and the accused felt. I had no idea the officer sitting in front of them was as fearful as the king of the netherworld. After I left the national desk and covered other fields, I realized that the police station and agency were scary places. I had been reckless and bold.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik hosted the “Building a Healthy Society” meeting at the annex of the Central Government Complex on Wednesday, and excessive litigation became a topic of discussion. In 2009, 623,700 people were sued, and in 2010, 514,800. The number was 555,000 last year. It is approximately 55 times the number of lawsuits in Japan, whose population is larger than Korea’s. As of 2010, the number of accused per population of 100,000 in Korea was 146.4 times that of Japan. People tend to rely on investigative authorities to resolve unreasonable business practices, inefficient civil lawsuits and damage compensation. But a more fundamental reason is the generally poor level of trust in society.
Foreign statistics showed that the number of operations increased as the number of doctors increased. Some are concerned that the increasing number of lawyers encourages lawsuits. Reconsideration of legal services for the people in the legal blind spot is the desirable direction. At the meeting, the case of “Legal Home Doctor” by the Gangseo District Office in Seoul was presented. Twenty counselors who graduated from law school were designated as legal home doctors this year and have been assigned to local government offices and social welfare committees. Geun Yun-hwa, 29, of the Gangseo District Office, was one of them. She persuaded a landlord to apply for an eviction order instead of raising a lawsuit against a tenant who did not pay rent. A person with a first-grade disability was excluded from welfare benefits as he was registered as an owner of a stolen car in an identity theft case, and Geum helped him resolve the issue through a civil suit for automobile ownership transfer. When can we break away from the shameful title of “Lawsuit Nation?” We say the worst reconciliation is better than the best decision.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun