Professor Norman I. Silber was selected to speak, consult and teach consumer law in China during July, 2009. The appointment was made by China Law Development (CLD), a Chinese law reform organization located in Beijing, and the China Consumers’ Association (CCA), an organization affiliated with China’s Bureau of Commerce and Industry.
One of the CLD-CCA events took place between July 9 to 11, 2009, in Xi’ning in Quinghai Province, near Tibet. Professor Silber and Ami Gadhia, Consumers Union Policy Counsel, lectured extensively on consumer law and the consumer movement to a gathering of approximately fifty Consumers’ Association lawyers and leaders of the national and provincial associations.
The China Consumers’ Association issued the attached press release along with photographs in connection with this session.
OVERSEAS GROWING SEEDS: A TRAINING CLASS ON THE PROTECTION OF CONSUMER RIGHTS, WITH ASSISTANCE FROM CONSUMERS UNION, IS WELCOMED IN CHINA
XI’NING, CHINA — On July 9-11, 2009, The Second China-U.S. Training Class on the Protection of Consumers’ Rights took place in Xi’ning, a highland city and the capital of Qinghai province. Building upon the successful First Training Class, which took place in 2007, in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, this year the China Consumers’ Association (“CCA”) and China Law Development Consultants (Beijing) (“CLD”) developed a second, more extensive event in Xi’ning, Qinghai. Two American experts provided approximately fifty Chinese consumer leaders—who are officials and leaders of the national and local branches of CCA throughout China—with a detailed examination of consumer rights organizations, consumer law, and the consumer policy-making process in the United States.
The invited experts were Prof. Norman I. Silber, an officer of Consumers Union (“CU”) and a Professor of Consumer Law at Hofstra University Law School; and Ms. Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel at Consumers Union. Consumers Union is the oldest consumer product testing and advocacy organization in the world, and it continues to be one of the leading international groups and the leading independent consumer organization in the United States. Like the first session, this session was organized and funded by CLD in cooperation with George Washington University Law School.
The training class was designed to offer an introduction to the U.S. system of consumer law and the operations of American NGOs which advocate on behalf of a safer and better marketplace. The experts presented eight sections over the course of 2 and ½ days:
Cornerstones of American consumer legislation;
The law of fraud, contracts and products Liability;
The role of government agencies;
Judicial and quasi-judicial consumer remedies;
Policy advocacy by Consumers Union;
The history of the American consumer movement;
The business model employed by Consumers Union; and
The market influence of product criticism.
The experts highlighted specific issues in American Consumer Movement which could be of special interest to China’s consumer advocates as they prepare for revisions to the Law of Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests (hereinafter referred as LPCRI). For instance, during their teaching of “judicial and quasi-judicial remedies,” many CCA participants expressed concern about possible ways in which American interpretations might or might not improve the punitive damage rules in present LPCRI. As another example, trainees asked about the operation of the cooling-off periods and rights of rescission in America to aid their consideration of the value of developing similar rules in China.
Responses to the presentations were very positive. One of the participants, Mr. Chen Wenliang, Secretary-General of Shandong Province Consumers Association, emphasized that the participants recognized that “the differences between China and America are important,” and that “we have to constitute our own consumers protection legal system in the context of this land.” He also thanked the experts for their creativity and willingness to answer questions in a comparative perspective.
Another typical example came from Mr. Chai Baoguo, a Deputy Secretary-General of CCA who addressed all the participants in a speech he delivered at the closing ceremony. He mentioned that “our knowledge of consumers’ protection, our confidence to do better for consumers, and our understanding of CCA itself has been raised quite a lot.”
Phyllis Chang, the President of CLD Consultants, after praising the great contribution of this class, discussed the possibilities for introducing grass-rooted NGOs to support the work of CCA in China. She also announced her belief “that this class is competent to enhance the transnational communication and cooperation between Chinese and American consumers’ organizations as well.”
The local Qinghai Daily also reported the event and reported positively that “as a result of the Training Session, the participants began to understand the recent overseas development of consumers’ rights protection, and had the opportunities to communicate with foreign experts in the context of Chinese current conditions, and expanded their view about the further work that remains to be done.”
List of experts:
Norman I. Silber
Professor of Law, Hofstra University Law School
Secretary, Board of Directors, Consumers Union
Policy Counsel, Washington, D.C. Office, Consumers Union