Professionals call for new, wider-ranging measures
Despite the initial success of the debtors’ blacklist, legal professionals have warned that it’s too early to say if the system will prevail.
At present, most of the restrictions target individuals, not corporate debtors. “It’s hard to control or limit businesses if they refuse to comply with verdicts,” said Lin Xiao, a deputy judge in the enforcement department at Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court.
Although he favors the restrictions as indirect economic pressures that can persuade defaulters to clear their debts, he said that the measures are far from sufficient.
“When a company refuses to repay money, we can ban its chairman from travelling overseas, but other related individuals can still travel overseas and the companymay still refuse to pay,” he said.
Moreover, if prosecutors use banks’ networks to research debtors’ assets, they can only access records related to savings and ownership of property, stocks and cars, according to Lin.
“Given China’s rapid economic development, the list should include much more than just those four items,” he said. “Also, some of the information is inaccurate, so we can only use it as a clue to locate other assets.”
In Lin’s opinion, defaulters should not be restricted in every aspect of their lives: “A person’s right to earn a living is the most important priority.”
Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, said restrictions should not be imposed until a person’ s human rights and basic lifestyle have been protected.
“Asking people in contempt of court to return money is necessary, but it does not mean we should impoverish them,” he said.
By contrast, Chen Wei, a civil and commercial lawyer in Beijing, felt the system should be tougher and called for a wider range of restrictions.
“There is no conflict between protecting debtors’ rights and imposing restrictions on them,” she said. “Their rights should be protected when they make good on their obligations, but we urgently need to set limits for different restrictions and make them easy to use.”