New clause will better protect civil rights of Good Samaritans
not bear civil liabilities for damages caused during their efforts to help someone in need, except in cases of gross negligence, according to the latest draft of the General Rules of Civil Law submitted to China’s top legislature for a third reading on Monday. Southern Metropolis Daily commented on Tuesday:
Among the newly added clauses to better protect civil rights, the one to protect Good Samaritans is a welcome move to reduce the potential risks of extending a helping hand. The initial draft of the General Rules of Civil Law, which was submitted six months ago, stipulates that the helped are advised to offer proper compensation to Samaritans who incur damages while helping them.
Admittedly, legislative efforts are called for to support and protect the civil rights of those lending a helping hand, many of whom in the past have had their good intentions smeared by those they were trying to help. Some that were helped have even extorted money from those that have gone to their aid by accusing those offering assistance of being the cause of their misfortune.
The draft unfortunately does not clarify which situations are defined as “gross negligence”, which might be exploited by the willful to extort money from the helpful.
Technically the extra clauses are good enough to help courts deal with such disputes. But the added clause does not mean Good Samaritans are exempt from all damage they bring to the helped, regardless of their good intentions. Many have long called for tolerance and encouragement in dealing with any collateral damage caused by Good Samaritans. The legislative authorities have adopted their advice, but it remains to be seen under what circumstances kind-hearted deeds may backfire and turn into unwanted civil liabilities.