New Rules of Civil Law - No. 2 Environment and Ecology Protection
New Rules of Civil Law - No. 2: Protection on Environment and Ecology
Fleur Chen April 21, 2021
China has promulgated a series laws concerning environmental protection, in the Civil Code, environmental protection is further emphasized to extend to more civil activities, which is known as “green principle”, concerning different areas of civil activities.
There are up to 17 provisions, which includes a complete Chapter VII, regarding environmental protection and related legal liabilities, covering the following aspects:
1. General Principle
Article 9 of the Civil Code sets forth the general rule of conservation of resources and protection of the ecological environment, which means that environmental protection shall be a principle for carrying out all civil activities.
2. Real Estate Owners
Article 286 sets forth that, real estate owners shall have the obligation to abide by laws, regulations, and property management rules, and their relevant activities shall meet the requirements of conserving resources and protecting the ecological environment.
Article 326 requires that a usufructuary shall, when exercising its rights, comply with the laws on the protection related to rational exploitation, and utilization of resources and the protection of the ecological environment. The owner shall not interfere with the exercise of such rights by the usufructuary.
4. Land-Use Rights
Article 346 requires that the land-use-rights of land for construction purposes shall be created in conformity with the requirements for conservation of resources and protection of the ecological environment, and in compliance with the provisions of laws and administrative regulations on the planned use of the lot, and may not impair the rights to usufruct already created thereon.
5. Performing Contracts
Article 509 requires the parties of a contract shall avoid wasting the resources, polluting the environment, or damaging the ecology in the course of performance of the contract.
Article 558 sets forth that, upon termination of rights and obligations, the parties shall, in compliance with the principle of good faith and the like, perform such obligations as sending notification, rendering assistance, keeping confidentiality, and retrieving the used items according to the course of dealing.
Article 619 provides that the seller shall deliver the subject matter in compliance with the packaging method as agreed in the contract. Where there is no agreement between the parties on the packaging method or the agreement is unclear, if the packing method cannot be determined according to the provisions of Article 510 of the Civil Code, the subject matter shall be packed in a general way, or, in the absence of a general way, in a manner sufficient to protect the subject matter and conducive to saving resources and protecting the ecological environment.
Article 625 sets forth that while, in accordance with the provisions of laws and administrative regulations or as agreed by the parties, the subject matter shall be recycled after expiration of its valid service life, the seller has the obligation to recycle the subject matter by himself or by an authorized third person.
Article 655 requires that an electricity consumer, which is a party of the power utility contract, shall use the electricity in a safe, economical and planned manner in accordance with the relevant regulations of the State and the agreement between the parties. If a consumer fails to use the electricity in accordance with the relevant regulations of the State or the agreement between the parties, and thus causes losses to the supplier, the consumer shall bear the liability for compensation.
Article 937 and 942 is regarding property management contract: i) A property management service provider, among others, shall repair and maintain the environmental hygiene, keeping the order and the like, and the property owners pay property management fees in return; ii) A property management service provider shall, in accordance with the contract and the nature of the use of the property, properly repair, maintain, clean, grow plants, and manage the common space of the property management service area co-owned by the owners, maintain the basic order in the property management service area, and take reasonable measures to protect the owners’ personal and property safety; iii) For any violation of the relevant laws and regulations on public security, environmental protection, fire protection, and the like, the property management service provider shall, in a timely manner, take reasonable measures to stop the violation, make a report to the competent regulatory authorities, and render assistance in its handling.
6. Liabilities for Environmental Pollution and Ecological Damage
Chapter VII includes 7 provisions regarding liabilities for environmental pollution and ecological damage. Pursuant to Chapter VII, environmental pollution and damage to ecology shall constitute tort and shall bear legal liabilities of compensation and punitive damages.
Pursuant to Article 1230, in case of any dispute arising from environmental pollution or ecological damage, the person who made the damages shall bear the burden to prove that there is no causation between his acts and the damage or the circumstances in which it shall not be responsible or its liabilities shall be mitigated as provided by law exist.
That punitive damage may be claimed by the jeopardized party in case of deliberately polluting the environment or harming the ecological system with serious consequences is provided in Article 1232, which is the first time that punitive damage on the damaging environment and ecological system is provided by law.
Protection of environment and ecological system is a global subject of critical importance for the globe. Reserving resources and protection of environment and ecological system is also one of the themes of Civil Code.
It is advisable for all businesses to enhance measures to ensure protection on environment and enological system to the most extent, to comply with the rules of Civil Code and other relevant laws and regulations, to pay attention to contract terms and conditions related to environment issues and the performance of the same, to monitor further implementing rules on the new rules regarding environmental protection in the Civil Code, to meet the requirements of the laws and regulations, and minimize legal risks involving environmental issues.
May a bright side be seen from the more and more stringent environment protection rules - new technologies and products for saving energy, reducing emission, and resources regeneration etc. which benefit the resources, environment and ecology, will surely expect a brighter future!