Chinese lawmakers push for clearer rules on tort liability

19:10, October 27, 2009      

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Chinese lawmakers Tuesday began considering specific compensation for losses caused by infringements of personal rights, such as name, reputation, portrait and privacy rights, in a draft amendment on tort liability.

The draft amendment to a draft law on tort liability was deliberated for the third time at the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, which opened Tuesday in Beijing.

According to the draft amendment, parties that suffer infringements of personal rights are entitled to compensation equal to their losses. In cases where losses are hard to assess, compensation should equal the infringers' gains.

People who have suffered infringements of their personal rights could also sue for psychological harm, although no details were given on how this would be assessed.

Committee member Zheng Gongcheng recommended the formulation of specific rules on how to assess and compensate psychological injury.

Lawmakers also considered a proposal to set the same compensation for all victims of an accident that results in "many"deaths.

Death compensation is normally case specific, depending on the victim's age, income and other related factors.

The draft specified that medical institutions could be freed from liability in medical accidents if the patients or their close relatives had not agreed to necessary treatment and medical staff fulfilled reasonable obligations in emergencies, such as saving critical patients, or deaths from incurable diseases.

The draft stated that if an animal harms a person, its owner should be liable for failing to take safety measures. If a deserted or runaway animal hurts a person while at large, its original owner should liable.

According to the draft, direct employers would be liable for employees dispatched by other organizations under agreement if the employees injure other parties during work. If the organization that dispatched the worker was also at fault, it should take complementary liability.

Members of the Standing Committee of the NPC said the latest draft needed to be improved as it was still far from a mature draft law.

Committee member Li Zupei suggested more work be done to clarify some terms, such as "to a necessary extent" and "reasonable obligations".

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, is presiding over the five-day session.

Source: Xinhua
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