New clause will bet­ter pro­tect civil rights of Good Sa­mar­i­tans

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - GOOD SA­MAR­I­TANS shall

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.

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