On January 9, 2014, the Supreme People's Court promulgated
the Judicial Interpretation on Issues concerning the Application of
Laws relating to Food and Drug Disputes (the
"Interpretation"). The Interpretation strengthens food
and drug safety, and aligns the different approaches towards
certain statutory provisions in relevant cases. It focuses on
issues such as intentionally purchasing counterfeit products and
online shopping. It will become effective on March 15, 2014.
Liability for promotional gifts
The Interpretation stipulates that producers and sellers are
liable for the safety of food and drugs even when such products are
offered as promotional gifts.
Liability of online stores for food and drug safety
The Interpretation clarifies that, if food or drugs purchased
online cause damage and the online store platform provider had
knowledge of the producer's or seller's infringement and
failed to take action, then the platform provider bears joint and
several liability. If the platform provider had no knowledge of the
infringement, it will still bear liability if it does not provide
the name or contact details of the infringing producer or
And organization or individual who endorses food or drugs that
are promoted with false claims will bear joint and several
liabilities along with the producers and sellers of such products.
This article enhances the Law of the People's Republic of China
on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests and expands
personal liabilities of false endorsement.
Intentionally purchasing counterfeit products may still be
For the first time, the Interpretation protects consumers who
purchase counterfeit products with full knowledge of the
products' quality problems. The court will not support a
producer's of seller's defense that the consumers purchased
the counterfeit product intentionally. However, the legal approach
towards people "professionally purchasing counterfeit products
for profit" still remains unclear.
The validity of exemption clauses
The Interpretation stipulates that producers or sellers of food
or drugs may not, through contract, notification, or other
declaration, waive their obligations, restrict consumer rights,
expand consumer obligations, or attempt to impose other
unreasonable conditions on consumers.
If food or drugs do not meet safety standard, consumers are
entitled to claim punitive damages or other indemnification
provided by relevant laws in the amount of 10 times the
compensatory damages. The Interpretation clarifies that personal
injury is not a prerequisite for the imposition of such punitive
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The requirement to provide home care packages on a consumer directed care basis (CDC) commenced on 1 July 2015.
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