Since March 2013, "consumers" from several cities such
as Jinan, Shenyang, Chongqing, Sanya have sued Wong Lo Kat
Guangzhou Health Industry Co. Ltd. ("Wong Lo Kat") for
disputes over the sales and purchase agreements and product
liabilities on the ground of "the change of taste in
Wanglaoji's herbal beverage". KWM lawyers represented Wong
Lo Kat, and succeeded in protecting our client's legal
interests and winning the "China's first consumers'
taste safe-guarding case" and all of its subsequent relevant
In this series of cases, the consumers claimed that change of
product taste was in relation to the definition of the
consumers' right to knowledge, especially relating to the
judgment on whether the details of a product's taste in the
food industry fall under the scope of information obligated to be
disclosed. According to Article 8 of the Law of Protection of the
Rights and Interests of Consumers, "[a] consumer shall have
the right to knowledge of the true facts concerning commodities
purchased and used or services received. A consumer shall have the
right to require business operators to provide relevant information
of commodities on price, place of origin, producer, usage,
functions, specifications, grade, main ingredients, date of
production, date of expiry, certificate of inspection, operation
manual and after-sale service, or contents, specifications and fees
of services in respect of commodities or services as the situation
requires". However, the law does not capture the
"taste" of a product as a relevant circumstance for the
consumers' right to knowledge.
Several court judgments all determined that the change of taste
claimed by the consumers is solely based on personal sensory
judgment of food, being subject to an individual's subjective
recognition as a result of his or her physical condition,
psychological status, external environment and other various
factors. Thus, it is patently unfair to use such subjective
recognition as the foundation for imposing a burden on the
operators to assume responsibility. In this case, the court
ultimately rejected the consumers' claims.
The new Law of Protection of the Rights and Interests of
Consumers which was amended on 25 October 2013 and took effect on
15 March 2014, aims to further enhance protection of consumers'
rights. However, such further safeguard has no implication to limit
the operators' autonomous operating rights. As well observed
from the "China's first consumers' taste safe-guarding
case" and its subsequent series of cases, in relation to
fulfillment of the legal duty of information disclosure, judicial
authorities would give due protection to the legal interest of
enterprises with equal weight instead of imposing additional
obligations on the enterprises based on the consumers' right to
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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