China likely to adopt first civil code in 2020

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/28 1:03:00

Lawmakers review draft rules for private law after four previous attempts

China could get its first-ever civil code after over 60 years of efforts as lawmakers began their first reading of draft rules stipulating the code's basic principles on Monday.

The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will consider the draft general rules at its bimonthly session, which runs through Saturday. The civil code, a collection of laws constituting a system of private law, will be implemented once the legislation is complete, the Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

Li Shishi, head of the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, said at the session's opening meeting that the rules are expected to be approved in March 2017 and the whole civil code adopted in March 2020, Xinhua reported.

The major principles of the code include equality, fairness and good faith, according to the draft, which also defines a number of key legal terms.

"It is urgent to have a civil code, since the some 200 current civil and commercial laws need a general principle, and the General Principles of the Civil Law that China adopted in 1986 can hardly play that role," Sun Xianzhong, a professor of the Institute of Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and an expert on civil law, told the Global Times.

This is the fifth time that China has tried to create a civil code. The country has been trying to codify its civil laws since 1954, but previous attempts were not wholly successful for a variety of reasons, including disagreement over the autonomous determination of rights and lack of preparation by legislators, said Sun, who is also an NPC member and proposed integrating the laws into a code in 2013. However, experts noted many civil laws, such as the Property Law and Contract Law, have already been formulated.

Wang Zhenyu, deputy director of the Public Decision- Making Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, also pointed out that, "As the ownership system has changed over the past 60 years, it has been hard to establish the basic principles for a civil code."

Sun said  the draft is very likely to be passed, thus becoming the country's first civil code. However, he noted that, "As current laws that will be included in the civil code were adopted in different historical periods, it is very difficult to integrate them into the code."

The draft general rules increase provisions protecting the civil interests of fetuses in inheritance and the acceptance of gifts and lower the age standard for persons with limited civil capacity of conduct from 10 years old to 6 years old, according to Xinhua's report.

Posted in: Law

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