Thursday, May 28, 2020
China's Congress NPC Adopts comprehensive civil code 中国民法典诞生！_中国人大网
Today China's National People's Congress adopted the long gestated comprehensive Civil Code, effective January 1, 2021. It's seven titles and 1,260 articles are rather like our Restatements of the Law - but only the `black letter' - the rules. No Comments, No Illustrations, No Reporter's Notes. Those will come - as a practical matter - from the Supreme Peoples Court via its various mechanisms: appellate rulings, of course. But more broadly from its Interpretations, Guidances, Answers to Questions, Rules and Regulations, Designation of certain court decisions as Guiding Cases. The SPC exercises this power as an agent of the NPC which, though it is the highest constitutional authority, has no constitutional or other such review commission.
Much of the work of the SPC is filling in the gaps in the statutes. Though laws go through three readings most of the debate occurred not in the chamber but via scholarly debate or through the public notice and comment process. This was a protracted process that by some measures started over 100 years ago when the Republic of China adopted a civil code derived largely from the Japanese and thus the German code.
In my area - torts - the sections in this code were largely prefigured in the 2009 tort law. But that law was drafted and circulated for discussion as part of the draft civil code in 2002. The first version of the Civil Code was introduced in the NPC in 2005. But the NPC got bogged down in debate over the real property law - problematic for a Leninist state that claims government ownership of all land. So they put the draft code aside and passed the tort law as a stand-alone measure. - GWC