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Third meeting of the study group on German and Chinese law (June 19th, 2007)

Ms. Professor Dr. Zhang gives the study group an idea of how German and European contract law is influencing Chinese contract law

On the 19th of June, 2007, the study group on German and Chinese law met for the 3rd time. The guest speaker was Ms. Prof. Dr. Xuezhe Zhang. On this evening Prof. Dr. Zhang gave the legal study group an impression of the extent, to which German and European contract law are influencing their Chinese counterpart.

Prof. Dr. Zhang stated first that Chinese civil law and, therefore, also contract law was and still is influenced by the German legal system. In 1999, when China consolidated its three contract laws in a single legal codification, the comparison with German law was helpful.

In the course of the last 20 years, German contract law has been changed by the EU and Prof. Dr. Zhang posed the question, whether Chinese contract law should take these changes into consideration, and, if so, in what way.

One of the core principles of European contract law is consumer protection, and the question, how this can be brought to effect particularly in the new forms of contract, such as doorstep transactions.

China does have consumer protection laws. However, here the aforementioned new types of contract are not yet taken into account. In closing this gap a view towards Europe might be helpful. For China has realized that a steady and healthy development of the economy presupposes a trusting consumer.

Consumer protection law awaits a reform, posing the additional question, whether consumer protection regulations should be incorporated into civil law or whether it should remain separate as a special codification. Various reform proposals exist. The idea of transforming consumer protection into one of the pillars of consumer law, and incorporating the civil law regulations into contract law is currently being opposed by the Chinese legislative, as is also the proposal of passing a separate contract law for consumers. The Chinese legislative prefers assuring consumer protection by means of special codifications and decrees.

As a final goal for consumer contract law in the Chinese legal system, Prof. Dr. Zhang presented the possibility of integrating the private law instruments geared towards consumer protection in the chapter "Contract" of the civil law codex currently pending codification. For the European concepts of consumer protection, which China is increasingly looking to as a model, also are civil law instruments.

Further questions, also ones not immediately concerned with Chinese-European legal comparison or consumer protection, were discussed at the Café Mehlwaage after the presentation. 

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Prof. Dr. Zhang


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