Product Liability and Exports – please make it stop

September 21, 2007

Just read an Op/Ed by a self-identified ambulance chaser from the U.S. on the whole export product controversy. You can read it here. I completely agree with the conclusion that an effective, muscular product liability/tort system in the PRC would ultimately lead to better QC. However, I gotta say that the whole China-has-no-legal-system argument is really getting old and making me cranky.

Granted, this is not a China guy, so I can’t really criticize too much. However, the following line bugs me:

Perhaps all China needs is a few good lawyers, and a body of civil law.

This is a good one too:

If consumers are injured by a product, the consequences must fall on those who made it. And, for that, Americans rely on a body of civil law. The Chinese were clearly puzzled by this.

Can we stop with this kind of thing? I usually hear it in an IP context when clueless commentators state that China has no IP laws. Now we have the strange notion that China‘s civil law somehow doesn’t cover product liability? Perhaps the author was just trying to say that the legal practice in this area needs to be more developed – agreed. But these kinds of blanket statements, which are also quite condescending, do not help. China does have product liability laws, people who suffer damages from products can and do sue manufacturers, and courts often find in their favor.

Now, damage awards may be too low, the lack of a system of discovery means that information/evidence is hard to come by, and certainly the writer of this article would not be happy with a legal system that does not include juries. But let’s get the basic facts right, huh?

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