01 February 2014

A new judicial interpretation offers greater protection to food and drug consumers

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 seller.

Celebrity endorsement

Any 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 protected

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 the 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.

Punitive damages

If food or drugs do not meet safety standards, 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 damages.

(This article was originally written in Chinese, and the English version is a translation.)

Contact Us: [email protected]

Belt and Road Hub

We explore the opportunities the Belt and Road Initiative brings for your business, and provide our comprehensive, professional services to help.


Belt and Road

A Guide to Doing Business in China

We explore the key issues being considered by clients looking to unlock investment opportunities in the People’s Republic of China.

Doing Business in China
Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
    You might also be interested in

    China’s launch of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) has become a question of when and not if. The more important question for businesses is: how do I get ready for a digital RMB?

    27 April 2021

    In this article, we examine two administrative decisions to ascertain how the recent enforcement trend in China is evolving, and we pay particular attention to how, during an investigation, the...

    22 April 2021

    In this article, we will break down the main points raised in the Administrative Instruction with the reference to Guidelines for Anti-monopoly in the Field of Platform Economy so that enterprises...

    13 April 2021

    It’s official. On 5 March 2021 the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that all LIBOR settings will either cease to be published by any administrator or no longer be representative, with...

    09 March 2021

    This site uses cookies to enhance your experience and to help us improve the site. Please see our Privacy Policy for further information. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive these cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

    For more information on which cookies we use then please refer to our Cookie Policy.