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The Good Samaritan Law Comes into Effect

On 1 October, the General Rules of Civil Law—a collection of general principles of Civil Law—came into effect. Article 184 is generally referred to as the ‘Good Samaritan Law’, stating that those who attempt to aid others in emergency situations will not be liable under any circumstances. This clause aims at solving the dilemma of people who, after helping an injured person, end up falsely accused by the victim of having caused the injury in the first place. The scope of the article was the subject of numerous discussions that have resulted in Chinese legislators producing different drafts of the rule over the years. The core of the controversy concerned the definition of gross negligence in the process of rescue, and the general tendency of Chinese law to look at anyone connected to a loss to share that loss, regardless of their level of fault. The provision came in the wake of a number of incidents widely reported by the Chinese media, in which either bystanders showed egregious indifference to suffering, or victims who had received assistance sued their helpers. One of the most iconic cases took place in Nanjing in 2006. That year, a young man named Peng Yu helped an old woman to get to the hospital after she was injured while getting off a bus. In return, he was sued for his troubles. In that case, the court decided against him, stating that ‘no one would in good conscience help someone unless they feel guilty’, causing a public furore (although in 2012 it turned out that Peng was actually guilty). In 2011, China was shocked by the case of Wang Yue, a twoyear-old toddler who passed away after having been run over by two vans while being ignored by passersby. More recently, in June 2017, a video went viral in China, in which a woman was hit by a vehicle and was then left unaided until a second vehicle killed her. EN

(Sources: BBC; Caixin; China Digital Times; National People’s Congress; The China Collection; The New York Times; Xinhuanet)

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