SPC Provisions on hearing Food/Drug disputes

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Supreme People's Court Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Applicable Law in Trial of Cases of Food and Drug Disputes

Supreme People's Court
The Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China Announces that the "Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Applicable Law in Trial of Cases of Food and Drug Disputes" was passed by the 1599th meeting of the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People's Court on December 9, 2013, and is hereby promulgated to take effect on March 15, 2014.

Supreme People's Court
December 23, 2013

Supreme People's Court Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Applicable Law in Trial of Cases of Food and Drug Disputes
(Adopted at the 1599th meeting of the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People's Court on December 9, 2013)

These provisions are drafted to correctly try cases of food and drug disputes on the basis of "The Tort Liability Law of the PRC ", "The Contract Law of the PRC" "The PRC Law for the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests" , "the Food Safety Law of the PRC", "The Civil Procedure Law of the PRC" and other legal provisions,together with trial experience.

Article 1: Where consumers bring civil lawsuits due to disputes over food or drugs, which meet the requirements for case acceptance provided in the civil procedure law, the people's courts shall accept them.

Article 2: Where food or drug quality issues that cause a harm to consumers, consumers may bring suit against the seller and producer either separately or jointly.

Where consumers only bring suit against either the seller or producer, the people's court may add other related parties to participate in the suit when necessary.

Article 3: Where food or drug quality is in dispute and a buyer makes a claim against the producer or seller, but the producer or seller conducts a defense on the grounds that the buyer clearly knew of the quality issue with the food or drugs and bought them anyway; the court will not support it.

Article 4: Where food or drugs provided as gifts to consumers by food or drug producers or sellers cause a harm to consumers and the consumers make a claim, but the producer or seller conducts an affirmative defense on the grounds that the consumer did not give consideration for the gift, the people's court will not support it.

Article 5: Where consumers present evidence proving the facts of purchasing food or drugs, and also that the food or drugs purchased did not meet the terms of the contract, and advocate that the food or drug producer or seller bear responsibility for breaching the contract, the people's court shall support it.

Where consumers present evidence proving that they were harmed after eating food or using drugs, preliminary showing a causal relationship between the harm and food or drugs, and request that the producer or seller of the food or drugs bear tort responsibility, the people's courts should support it, except however, where the producer or seller can prove that the harm was not caused by the product not meeting quality standards.

Article 6: Food producers and sellers shall bear the burden of proof in showing that food meets quality standards. 。 Determining whether food is up to grade shall be based on national standards; where there is no national standard the local standard shall be the basis; where there is neither a national or local standard, the enterprise standard shall be the basis. Where the standard adopted by food producers is higher than the national and local standards, the enterprise standard shall be the basis. Where the are none of the standards described above, the relevant provisions of food safety laws shall be the basis.

Article 7: Where food or drugs received a proof of meeting standards prior to sale and were used within the shelf life, but are found to not meet standards upon inspection, and the seller conducts a defense on the grounds that the food or drugs have a proof of meeting standards, the court shall not support it.

Article 8: Where those operating centralized marketplaces, renting out counters or organizing trade shows fail to perform duties provided for in the food safety laws such as reviews, inspections, and management, and a food safety accident occurs causing consumers to suffer personal injury, and the consumers request that these persons bear joint responsibility, the people's court shall support it.

Article 9: Where consumers purchasing food or drugs from internet sales platforms suffer a harm, and the providers of the internet sales platform cannot provide the true name, address and effective contact information of the producer or seller of the food or drugs, and the consumers request that the providers of the internet sales platform bear responsibility, the people's court shall support it.

Where after providers of internet sales platforms undertake responsibility for compensation, they exercise their right to seek compensation against the producers or sellers, the peoples court shall support it.

Where providers of internet sales platforms know or should know that the producers or sellers of food and drugs are using their platform to infringe the lawful rights and interests of consumers, but do not adopt necessary measures causing harm to consumers, and consumers request that they bear joint responsibility with the producers and sellers, the people's court shall support it.

Article 10: Where individuals, enterprises or other organizations, which have not received production or sales credentials but are affiliated with a producer or seller that possesses the relevant credentials, produce or sell food or drugs causing harm to consumers, and the consumers request that the entity and its affiliate bear joint responsibility, the court shall support it.

Where consumers sue only the entity or its affiliate, the people's court may add relevant parties to participate in the litigation when necessary.

Article 11: Where consumers harmed due to quality issues with food or drugs recommended by false advertising, request that the advertisement agency or publisher bear joint responsibility on the basis of relevant provisions in the consumer protection law and other such laws, the people's court shall support it.

Where social organizations, other organizations or individuals recommend food or drugs to consumers in false advertisements, causing harm to consumers, and consumers request that they bear joint responsibility with producers and sellers of food and drugs, on the basis of the consumer protection law and other relevant laws, the people's court shall support it.

Article 12: Where food and drug inspection agencies intentionally release false inspection reports, causing harm to consumers, and consumers request that they bear joint responsibility, the people's court shall approve it.

Where food or drug inspection agencies negligently release inaccurate inspection reports, causing harm to consumers, and consumers request that they bear commensurate responsibility, the people's courts shall support it.

Article 13: Where food certification agencies intentionally issue false certifications, causing harm to consumers, and consumers request they bear joint responsibility, the people's court shall support it.

Where food certification agencies negligently issue inaccurate certifications, causing harm to consumers, and consumers request they bear commensurate responsibility, the people's courts shall support it.

Article 14: Where quality issues exist in the production or sale of food or drugs, and producers and sellers must at the same time bear civil, administrative and criminal responsibility, but their assets are insufficient to pay, and the parties, on the basis of the tort liability law and other relevant legal provisions, request that the food or drug producer or seller first undertake the civil responsibility, the people's courts shall support it.

Article 15: Where for food production not meeting safety standards or sale of foods clearly known to not meet safety standards, consumers, in addition to requesting compensation for losses, claim ten times the compensation amount from the producer or seller, or, request compensation based on other compensatory standards provided by law, the people's court shall support it.

Article 16: Where producers and sellers of food or drugs use methods such as form contracts, notices, statements or bulletins to eliminate or limit consumer rights, reduce or avoid business responsibility, increase consumer's responsibility or make other such stipulations unfair or unreasonable to consumers, and consumers request that this content be found ineffective in accordance with law, the people's court shall support it.

Article 17: Disputes between consumers and cosmetics, supplements or other products' producers, sellers, advertisement agents, advertisement publishers, promoters, inspection agencies and other bodies, apply these provisions by reference.

Where consumer associations bring public interest lawsuits in accordance with law, apply these provisions by reference.

Article 18: After the implementation of these Provisions, People's Courts hearing the first and second instance trials shall apply its provisions.

For cases concluding trial before these provisions take effect, where parties request retrial after these provisions take effect or where a new trial is decided on under trial supervision procedures, these provisions do not apply.

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