Interim Measures for Handling Market Regulation Complaints and Reports (Mainland China)

Jolene Chen

On November 30, 2019, the State Administration for Market Regulation promulgated the Interim Measures for Handling Market Regulation Complaints and Reports (the “Interim Measures”), which went into effect on January 1, 2020.

The Interim Measures first clarify how professional anti-counterfeiting complaints are handled.  To wit, the regulatory authority will not accept complaints over goods and services that are not purchased, used or accepted for daily consumption needs, or if no actual dispute over consumer rights and interests between the complainant and the respondent can be shown.  Thus, previous professional anti-counterfeiting conduct is formally excluded from the scope of complaints accepted by local market regulatory bureaus.

In addition to professional anti-counterfeiting, the Interim Measures also stipulate that the market regulatory authorities will not handle the following matters: Subject of complaint does not fall within the jurisdiction of the market regulatory authorities or are not subject to the authority of market regulatory authorities; disputes over the same consumer rights and interests that are already been handled by courts, arbitration agencies, market regulatory authorities or other administrative agencies, consumer associations or other mediation organizations established pursuant to law; unless otherwise provided by law, more than three years have elapsed since the complainants’ awareness or presumed awareness that their and interests were infringed by the respondents; failure to provide the materials required under the Interim Measures; and other circumstances where such complaints shall not be accepted pursuant to laws, regulations and rules.

The Interim Measures also require the following information to be provided in a complaint: (1) the name, telephone number, and contact address of the complainant; (2) the designation (name) and address of the respondent; and (3) specifics of the complaint and the facts giving rise to a consumer right dispute.  If the complainant is not in writing, the market regulatory authority personnel shall record the information specified in the preceding paragraph.  If another person is submitting the complaint on behalf of the complainant, in addition to the information mentioned above, the original of the power of attorney and the identification document of the entrusted person shall be provided.  The power of attorney shall specify the scope and duration of agency and be signed by the complainant.

In addition, the Interim Measures stipulate that market regulatory authorities may handle complaints by way of mediation with the consent of the complainant and the respondent, unless laws or regulations provide otherwise.  Mediation can take the form of in-person mediation or over the Internet, phone or videoconference.  Mediation shall be terminated under certain circumstances, such as if the complainant and the respondent cannot agree on the technical agency to conduct the inspection, examination, testing or appraisal work or on the costs of such, or if a mediation agreement is not reached between the complainant and the respondent in 45 working days upon acceptance of the complaint.  Finally, the mediation of disputes over consumer rights and interests does not release the operator from its other legal responsibilities.