Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Public Interest Actions regarding Consumption

 2018-05-11  16


· Document Number:Interpretation No. 10 [2016] of the Supreme People’s Court

· Area of Law: Civil Litigation

· Level of Authority: Judicial Interpretation

· Date issued:04-24-2016

· Effective Date:05-01-2016

· Status: Effective

· Issuing Authority: Supreme People's Court

 

Announcement of the Supreme People's Court
The Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Public Interest Actions regarding Consumption, as adopted at the 1677th Session of the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People's Court on February 1, 2016, is hereby issued, and shall come into force on May 1, 2016.
Supreme People's Court
April 24, 2016
Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Public Interest Actions regarding Consumption
(Interpretation No. 10 [2016] of the Supreme People's Court, adopted at the 1677th Session of the Judicial Committee of the Supreme People's Court on February 1, 2016 and to come into force on May 1, 2016)
In order to properly try civil public interest actions regarding consumption, this Interpretation is developed in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, the Tort Law of the People's Republic of China, the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, and other relevant legal provisions and in light of the judicial practice.
Article 1 Where the China Consumers' Association (“CCA”) and consumers' associations set up in provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government institute civil public interest actions regarding consumption against business operators that infringe upon the lawful rights and interests of many unspecific consumers or have acts of endangering the personal and property safety of consumers and impairing the public interests, this interpretation shall apply.
This Interpretation shall apply to civil public interest actions regarding consumption instituted by authorities and social organizations as prescribed in the law or authorized by the National People's Congress and the Standing Committee thereof.
Article 2 Where the commodities or services provided by a business operator fall under any of the following circumstances, the provisions of Article 47 of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests shall apply:
(1) The commodities or services provided by the business operator have defects, which impair the lawful rights and interests of many unspecific consumers.
(2) The commodities or services provided by the business operator may endanger the personal and property safety of consumers and the business operator fails to make a truthful explanation and plain warning or fails to indicate the methods for properly using commodities or accepting services and the methods for preventing the occurrence of damage; or the business operator makes a false or misleading publicity of information on the quality, performance, use, and term of validity of the commodities or services it provides.
(3) There are risks endangering the personal and property safety of consumers in such business premises as hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, banks, airports, stations, ports, movie theatres, scenic spots, and entertainment venues.
(4) By means of standard terms, notices, statements, and on-site posters, among others, the business operator makes unfair or unreasonable provisions for consumers where the rights of consumers are excluded or restricted, the responsibilities of the business operator are mitigated or exempted, and the responsibilities of consumers are aggravated.
(5) The business operator commits other acts that impair the lawful rights and interests of many unspecific consumers, endanger the personal and property safety of consumers, and impair the public interests.
Article 3 The relevant provisions of Article 285 of the Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China shall apply to the jurisdiction of civil public interest actions regarding consumption.
With the approval of the Supreme People's Court, the higher people's courts may, in light of the actual circumstances within their respective jurisdictions, determine some intermediate people's courts within their respective jurisdictions to try civil public interest actions regarding consumption of first instance.
Article 4 Before a civil public interest action regarding consumption is instituted, the following materials shall be submitted:
(1) a written complaint complying with the provisions of Article 121 of the Civil Procedure Law, with copies in the number of defendants;
(2) the preliminary evidence proving that the defendant's acts infringe upon the lawful rights and interests of many unspecific consumers, endanger the personal and property safety of consumers, and impair the public interests; and
(3) the evidentiary materials that the consumers' organization has performed public interest responsibilities as prescribed in item (4) or (5) of Article 37 of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests for the matters involved.
Article 5 Where the people's court holds that the claims made by the plaintiff are insufficient to protect the public interests, the people's court may make an explanation to the plaintiff that the plaintiff may alter or increase claims, including cessation of infringement.
Article 6 After accepting a civil public interest action regarding consumption, the people's court shall announce information on case acceptance and notify the relevant administrative department in writing within ten days from the day on which the action is docketed.
Article 7 After the people's court accepts a civil public interest action regarding consumption, other authority or social organization that may institute an action according to the law may apply for participating in the action before the opening of court session of first instance.
Where such authority or social organization is allowed by the people's court to participate in the action, it shall be listed as a co-plaintiff; and if such authority or social organization fails to file an application within the prescribed time limit, it is not allowed to participate in the action.
Article 8 The authority or social organization that has the right to institute a civil public interest action regarding consumption may apply for evidence preservation in accordance with the provisions of Article 81 of the Civil Procedure Law.
Article 9 Where, after the people's court accepts a civil public interest action regarding consumption, a consumer suffering damage from the same infringement applies for participating in the action, the people's court shall notify the consumer of claiming rights in accordance with the provisions of Article 119 of the Civil Procedure Law.
Article 10 Where, after the people's court accepts a civil public interest action regarding consumption, a consumer suffering damage from the same infringement requests the people's court to suspend the action he or she has instituted in accordance with the provisions of Article 119 of the Civil Procedure Law, the people's court may permit such suspension.
Article 11 The people's court shall not accept a counterclaim that is made by the defendant in the process of trying a civil public interest action regarding consumption.
Article 12 The people's court shall not admit the facts acknowledged by the plaintiff in the action that are unfavorable for the plaintiff if the people's court holds that such facts damage the public interests.
Article 13 Where, in a civil public interest action regarding consumption, the plaintiff requests that the defendant should assume such civil liabilities as ceasing the infringement, removing obstacles, eliminating dangers, and offering apologies, the people's court may support such request.
Where a business operator uses standard terms, notices, statements, or on-site posters to exclude or restrict the rights of consumers, mitigate or exempt responsibilities of the business operator, and aggravate the responsibilities of consumers and the plaintiff alleges that the claims unfair or unreasonable for consumers should be invalid, the people's court shall support such allegation of the plaintiff.
Article 14 After the judgment of a civil public interest action regarding consumption comes into force, the people's court shall, within ten days, notify the relevant administrative department of the judgment in writing and may issue judicial suggestions.
Article 15 Where after the judgment of a civil public interest action regarding consumption comes into force, other authority or social organization as qualified as a plaintiff institutes a separate civil public interest action regarding consumption for the same infringement, the people's court shall not accept such action as instituted by the authority or social organization.
Article 16 Where consumers suffering damage from the same infringement institute an action in accordance with the provisions of Article 119 of the Civil Procedure Law, it is unnecessary for both the plaintiff and the defendant to assume the burden of proof for facts that have been identified in an effective judgment of a civil public interest action regarding consumption, unless the party involved raises an objection to such facts and provides contrary evidence sufficient to reverse such facts.
Where it is identified in the effective judgment of a civil public interest action regarding consumption that the business operator has illegal activities, if consumers suffering damage from the same infringement institute an action in accordance with the provisions of Article 119 of the Civil Procedure Law and the plaintiff alleges that such effective judgment is applicable, the people's court shall support such allegation of the plaintiff, unless the defendant has contrary evidence sufficient to reverse the allegation. Where the defendant contends that the identification conclusion favorable to the defendant should be directly applicable, but the people's court does not support such contention of the defendant, the defendant shall still assume the corresponding burden of proof.
Article 17 Where the plaintiff alleges that the defendant should assume the expenses incurred by the plaintiff for taking reasonable prevention and disposal measures for ceasing the infringement, removing obstacles, and eliminating dangers, the people's court may support such allegation.
Article 18 The people's court may, in light of the actual circumstances, support the plaintiff's claims for the reasonable expenses incurred in the investigation and evidence-taking of the infringement by the plaintiff and the agent ad litem thereof, the identification expenses, and the reasonable lawyer's fees.
Article 19 This Interpretation shall come into force on May 1, 2016.
This Interpretation shall apply to actions newly accepted by the people's court of first instance after this Interpretation comes into force.
This Interpretation shall not apply to actions that have been accepted by the people's courts of first instance and second instance before this Interpretation comes into force but have not been closed after this Interpretation comes into force and actions for which a final judgment has been entered before this Interpretation comes into force and of which a party files a petition for retrial or which a decision is made under the trial supervision procedure to retry after this Interpretation comes into force.