29 June 2020

On 28 May 2020, the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC Civil Code“) was adopted by the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress. The PRC Civil Code consists of 1,260 articles in seven parts, including general provisions, property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, tort liability, and supplementary provisions. This is the most extensive legislative document in China, symbolising a milestone in the development of its legal system.

Notably, the chapter on contracts provides details on concluding contracts via electronic means and their performance. Four additional types of contracts are also included in this chapter, namely, contracts relating to guarantees, factoring, property services and partnership.

The PRC Civil Code not only codifies fundamental rules on civil and commercial matters but also strengthens the protection of citizens’ personal rights such as the right to privacy and personal information. The chapter titled “Personality Rights” sets out rights in relation to reputation, name, image and privacy, with rights relating to voice, name and property in the virtual world codified for the first time. Unlike the other chapters, the chapter on personality rights is the only part of the PRC Civil Code that was not a standalone statute previously.

The PRC Civil Code will come into effect on 1 January 2021, at which time it will abolish several current laws, including the Marriage Law, Succession Law, Adoption Law, Guarantee Law, Contract Law, Property Law, Tort Law and General Principles of the Civil Law.