7 August 1993
Various localities’ People’s Courts have put forward some questions on how to apply the law in hearing reputation rights cases, which are hereby answered as follows:
I, Q: How shall People’s Courts investigate the complaints of parties concerning reputation rights disputes?
A: When People’s Courts receive complaints concerning reputation rights disputes, they shall conduct investigations according to the provisions of Article 108 of the “Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China” (hereafter simply named civil procedure law), those meeting conditions shall be accepted. Those not meeting conditions for lodging complaints, shall be ruled not to be accepted; those persisting in lodging a complaint where infringing facts are absent, shall be ruled to be rejected.
II, Q: Where parties have been insulted or slandered in a public place, and this has been dealt with by public security organs according to the “Public Order Management Punishment Regulations of the People’s Republic of China” (hereafter simply named Public Order Management Punishment Regulations), and they still raise a civil lawsuit with the People’s Courts, is the People’s Court to accept this or not?
A: Where parties have been insulted or slandered in public places, and they raise civil lawsuits on the basis of infringement of the right to reputations, regardless of whether or not public security organs have dealt with this according to the Public Order Management Punishment Regulations, the People’s Courts shall investigate this according to the law, those meeting acceptance conditions shall be accepted.
III, Q: Where the parties, after raising a right to reputation lawsuit, request the investigation of the defendant for criminal liability for the same facts and reasons, how should this be handled?
A: Where parties request investigation of criminal liability of the defendant after raising a right to reputation lawsuit, for the same facts and reasons, the civil lawsuit shall be suspended, to wait for the completion of the criminal investigation, and is to be dealt with respectively according to different situations: where criminal circumstances are relatively light, and no criminal punishment is imposed on the defendant, or the criminal case has been withdrawn by the plaintiff, or has been rejected, the civil lawsuit shall be resumed; where the demands in the civil lawsuit have already been resolved in the civil suit attached to the criminal case, the hearing of the civil case shall be terminated.
IV, Q: How is jurisdiction in a reputation rights case to be determined?
A: For reputation rights cases, the provisions of Article 29 of the Civil Procedure Law apply, the People’s Court of the locality of the infringing act or of the residence of the defendant has jurisdiction. The locality of the infringing act includes the place where the infringing act was carried out and the place where the results of the infringing acts happened.
V, Q: if the reputation of a deceased person is harmed, which people may raise a civil lawsuit as plaintiffs?
A: Where the reputation of a deceased person is harmed, their close relatives are empowered to raise a lawsuit with the People’s Courts. Close relatives include: spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters, paternal and maternal grandparents, and grand children in all lines.
VI, Q: In reputation rights disputes triggered by news reports or other works, how is the defendant to be determined?
A: In reputation rights disputes that happen because of news reports or other works, the defendant is to be determined on the basis of the complaint of the plaintiff. If he only sues the writer, the writer is to be listed as defendant; if he only sues the news or publishing work unit, the news or publishing work unit is listed as defendant; where he sues the writer and the news or publishing work unit, the writer and news or publishing work unit are both listed as defendants; but where the writer has a subordinate relationship to the news or publishing work unit, and the work has been created in the execution of the writer’s profession, only the work unit is to be listed as defendant.
VII: Q: How is the liability for infringement of the right to reputation to be determined?
A: Whether or not liability for infringement of the right to reputation is constituted, is to be established on the basis of the facts of the injured person’s reputation having been truly damaged, the unlawfulness of the act of the actor, the causal relationship between the unlawful act and the consequence of injury, and the objective error of the actor.
Those insulting or slandering other persons in written or oral ways, harming the reputation of other persons, shall be established to have infringed the right to reputation of other persons.
Those who have, without the agreement of other persons, engaged in unauthorized dissemination of private materials of other persons, or propagated private information of other persons in written or oral form, leading to harm to the reputation of other persons, shall be dealt with as having infringed the right to reputation of other persons.
Where grave inaccuracy in news reports leads to harm to the reputation of other persons, this shall be dealt with as infringement of the right to reputation of other persons.
VIII: Q: How shall it be established whether or not reputation rights disputes triggered by writing and publishing critical articles constitutes infringement?
People’s Courts shall handle reputation rights disputes triggered by writing and publishing of critical articles according to the following different circumstances:
Where the problem reflected in the article is basically true, and there is no content slandering the human dignity of the other person, it shall not be established as an infringement of the other person’s right to reputation.
Where, although the problem reflected in the article is basically true, there is content slandering the human dignity of the other person, causing harm to the right of reputation of the other person, it shall be established as an infringement of the other person’s right to reputation.
Where the basic content of the article is inaccurate, causing harm to the right of reputation of the other person, it shall be established as an infringement of the other person’s right to reputation.
IX, Q: How is it to be established whether or not infringement is constituted in reputation rights disputes triggered by literary works?
A: Writing and publishing literary works, that do not make specific persons from life into targets for description, but where only the circumstances in the work and the circumstances of some person are similar, is not to be established as an infringement of other persons’ right to reputation.
Where literary works describe real people and real facts, and insult or slander a specific person, or harm his reputation by divulging private information; or where, although the real name and address have not been clearly written, but the facts take a specific person or specific facts related to a specific person as target for description, and there is content that is insulting, slandering or reveals private information, causing harm to the reputation of this person, it shall be established as an infringement of the other person’s right to reputation.
Editing and publishing work units, after it has been established that another person’s right to reputation has been injured or they have been notified that a work clearly infringes another person’s right to reputation, shall publish a statement to cancel the influence or adopt other remedy measures; where they refuse to publish a statement, do not adopt other remedy measures or continue to print or publish the infringing work, this is to be established as infringement.
X, Q: How is the form in which liability for infringement of the right to reputation is borne to be grasped?
A: The People’s Courts may, according to the provisions of Article 120 and Article 134 of the “General Principles of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China”, order the infringer to cease the infringement, restore the reputation, cancel the influence, make a formal apology and compensate damage.
Restoring the reputation, cancellation of influence and a formal apology may be carried out in written form or oral form, the content must be examined in advance by the People’s Court.
The scope of restoring the reputation or cancelling the influence, generally shall correspond to the scale of the harmful influence created by the infringement.
Where citizens or legal persons require compensation for infringement of their right to reputation, the infringer shall compensate the economic damage created by the infringing act; where citizens also put forward a request for moral compensation, the People’s Courts may deliberate and decide this on the basis of the extent of the error of the infringer, the concrete circumstances of the infringing act, the consequences moral harm suffered by the victim, and other circumstances.
XI, Q: Where infringers do not carry out an effective judgment, and do not restore the reputation, cancel the influence or make a formal apology, how is this to be handled?
A: Where the infringer refuses to carry out an effective judgment, does not restore the reputation of the other side or cancels the influence, the People’s Courts may adopt methods such as public announcements, announcements in newspapers, etc., to publicize the main content of the judgement and the relevant influences to the masses, the fees are to be borne by the infringer, who may be punished according to the provisions of Article 102 Clause 6 of the Civil Procedure Law.