The door for "professional claimants" to make profits through malicious complaints will be closed.The Interim Measures for handling complaints and reports of market supervision and Administration (hereinafter referred to as the "measures") issued by the State Administration of market supervision and administration on Tuesday clearly stipulates that the market supervision and administration department shall not accept complaints initiated "not for the purpose of purchasing or using goods or receiving services for daily consumption, or failing to prove that there is a dispute over the rights and interests of consumers with the respondent".
It is understood by reporters that the promulgation of this provision in the measures has been subject to public consultation and research for many times. This means that the "professional claim" behavior of malicious complaints in the name of "cracking down on counterfeits" will be regulated. The measures will come into force on January 1, 2020.
"This provision not only conforms to the provisions of the consumer protection law on the definition of consumers, but also closes the door of complaints of so-called professional claimants for profit-making purposes, and reduces the burden of regulatory authorities." Qiu Baochang, an expert of the expert committee of China Consumer Association, believes that this is a bright spot of the interim measures.
However, Qiu Baochang also said that for the complaints of natural persons without marks on their faces, how to determine whether they purchase, use goods or receive services for the purpose of living needs or for the purpose of making profits may be difficult in practice, so it is suggested to modify the law on the protection of consumers' rights and interests or make it clear in the relevant judicial interpretation.
In Qiu Baochang's view, the measures should not only protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, but also close the channels of profit-making for professional claimants who do not aim at life needs. At the same time, it should open the door to reward and report, and encourage the public to obtain corresponding rewards through reporting.
In terms of real name reporting and notification procedures, the measures stipulates that the whistleblower shall provide specific clues suspected of violating market supervision and management laws, regulations and rules, and be responsible for the authenticity of the reported content. Encourage the internal personnel of business operators to report the suspected illegal acts of business operators according to law. If the informer reports in real name, the market supervision and administration department with the authority to deal with it shall also inform the informer within five working days from the date of making the decision whether to file a case or not.
According to the industry observation report released by the Internet Law Conference in 2019, "professional claims" affect businesses, platforms, regulatory departments, judicial departments and other parties, damage the market business environment, and encroach on the judicial enforcement resources of consumers' legitimate rights.
The report also pointed out that, unlike professional anti-counterfeiting, "professional claims" often borrow the name of anti-counterfeiting and extort. The general path is "one buy, two talk, three report, four review, five litigation". In addition, "professional claims" are now showing the trend of gang, youth and industrialization.
Prior to that, several NPC representatives proposed to standardize the "professional claim" behavior of malicious complaints in the name of "cracking down on counterfeit goods". Public information shows that in the past four years, nearly 40 deputies to the National People's Congress have put forward suggestions on regulating professional claims.
Chu Xiaoqin, deputy of the National People's Congress, pointed out at the national two sessions in 2018 that the motivation of "professional claim" is not to purify the market, but to use punitive compensation to make profits for themselves or take the opportunity to extort money from businesses. Some behaviors seriously violate the principle of good faith, ignore judicial power and waste judicial resources. Therefore, she suggested that we should gradually curb the profit-making activities of "professional claims".