First step taken to com­pile a civil code

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YI in Bei­jing zhang_yi@chi­

The Supreme Peo­ple’s Court has formed a group to start com­pil­ing the na­tion’s first civil code fol­low­ing re­peated calls for the rule of law.

Xi Xiaom­ing, the court’s vice- pres­i­dent, who was ap­pointed deputy head of the group on Tues­day, said the civil code will serve as an im­por­tant ba­sis of ju­di­cial judg­ment, and the group will so­licit opin­ions from a cross sec­tion of the public and legal pro­fes­sion­als.

“The civil code will be the code of con­duct for so­ci­ety and the gen­eral public, and it will pro­vide the norms for tri­als,” Xi said. “So we need to make sure the civil code is cod­i­fied in a sci­en­tific way with­out any flaws in its logic, and it should be ap­pli­ca­ble in tri­als.”

It is a com­mon prac­tice in coun­tries all over the world to com­pile a civil code, which is a col­lec­tion of laws de­signed to co­or­di­nate legal re­la­tion­ships and reg­u­late the so­cial be­hav­ior of in­di­vid­u­als within a given so­ci­ety.

It in­cludes a wide range of laws such as tort law, con­tract law, prop­erty law, and the law of in­her­i­tance.

China at­tempted to com­pile a civil code four times be­tween 1954 and 1998.

The lat­est ini­tia­tive stems from De­cem­ber 2002, when the stand­ing com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress be­gan to re­view a draft of the civil code.

The com­mit­tee post­poned the re­view be­cause mak­ing a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem­atic civil code is im­pos­si­ble to com­plete when laws in some spe­cific ar­eas are ab­sent.

It started to rem­edy that sit­u­a­tion with the Prop­erty Law that was ap­proved in March 2007, and en­acted in Oc­to­ber of the same year.

The ini­tia­tive of cod­i­fy­ing a civil code was raised for the fifth time at the fourth ple­nary ses­sion of the 18th Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Zhang De­jiang, China’s top leg­is­la­tor, reaf­firmed the at­tempt dur­ing the ses­sions of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress in March.

Wang Lim­ing, vice-pres­i­dent of Ren­ming Uni­ver­sity and a pro­fes­sor of civil law stud­ies, said a coun­try needs a com­pre­hen­sive law to reg­u­late its so­ci­ety and econ­omy. In­di­vid­ual laws lack sys­tem­atic and struc­tural legal ef­fect and would lower the ef­fi­ciency of so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

“For ex­am­ple, the pro­vi­sion about the right of de­po­si­tion in con­tract law and the one about reg­u­la­tion on own­er­ship in prop­erty law are con­tra­dic­tory,” Wang said.

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