Global Product Liability


China is a complicated market with a host of administrative authorities responsible for different areas of focus and also at different levels (from national all the way down to local district levels) having wide discretionary powers to determine violations and impose sanctions. Its product liability regime is still in its early stages of development and decisions coming out of courts across the country lack the level of consistency and predictability usually found in more mature markets.

Significant growth in domestic consumption and increased awareness of consumer protection rights has in the meantime spurred a greater willingness for consumers to bring their complaints to administrative authorities as well as commencing product liability actions in the courts. Responding to the government's focus on protecting the rights of consumers, judges have steadily become more open to tort and contract-based suits, including class action style litigation.

Outside of the court system, administrative authorities have in recent years ramped up their enforcement actions targeting product registration concerns, product defect violations, and failure to comply with mandatory national standards. These are supplemented with the release of new department level provisions and measures targeting product testing and product recalls. The authorities continue to focus their regulatory oversight on traditional key areas such as health supplements, food and beverage, infant formula, toys and other consumer products. The frequency and reach of official inspections and testing conducted by Chinese authorities often catches brands and manufacturers unprepared.

In this complex Chinese regulatory environment, we counsel clients on compliance with local laws and regulations, address specific product quality concerns and claims, and provide practical insight on enforcement trends by local authorities. With experienced regulatory lawyers in our Beijing and Shanghai offices, our China-based team provides regulatory advice and assistance to clients in a number of key areas:

  • application of mandatory product standards
  • compliance mapping of specific regulatory requirements
  • product recalls
  • product promotions and marketing
  • responding to consumer complaints (dealing with both consumers and responsible authorities)
  • responding to official inspections by local authorities
  • responding to regulatory investigations and related sanctions

Our disputes team also advises and assists clients in relation to product liability litigation with the assistance of local counsel in China.

Our Chinese product liability related mandates and experience cover the following product categories:

  • medical devices
  • food and beverage
  • infant formula
  • consumer products
  • chemicals
  • automobile parts

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