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Regulations on E-Commerce Consumer Protection Rules in China and Europe Compared – Same Same but Different?

  1. Dr. Jörg Binding
  2. Dr. Kai Purnhagen

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the regulations on e-commerce protection rules in China and the European Union. It starts by giving a general overview of different approaches towards consumer protection in e-commerce. This article then scrutinizes the current legal system in China by mainly focusing on SAIC’s “Interim Measures for the Administration of Online Commodity Trading and Relevant Service Activities”. The subsequent chapter covers the supervision of consumer protection in e-commerce in China, which covers both the regulatory objects of online commodity trading and the applied regulatory mechanisms. While the regulatory objects include operating agents, operating objects, operating behavior, electronic contracts, intellectual property and consumer protection, the regulatory mechanisms for e-commerce in China combines market mechanism and industry self-discipline under the government’s administrative regulation. Further, this article examines the current European legal system in online commodity trading. It outlines the aim and the scope of EU legislation in the respective field. Subsequently, the paper describes the European approach towards the supervision of consumer protection in e-commerce. As there is no central EU agency for consumer protection in e-commerce transactions, the EU stipulates a framework for Member States’ institutions, thereby creating a European supervisory network of Member States’ institutions and empowers private consumer organisations to supervise the market on their behalf. Moreover, the EU encourages the industry to self- or co-regulate e-commerce by providing incentives. Consequently, this article concludes that consumer protection may be achieved by different means and different systems. However, even though at first glance the Chinese and the European system appear to differ substantially, a closer look reveals tendencies of convergence between the two systems.

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Any party may pass on this Work by electronic means and make it available for download under the terms and conditions of the Digital Peer Publishing License. The text of the license may be accessed and retrieved at http://www.dipp.nrw.de/lizenzen/dppl/dppl/DPPL_v2_en_06-2004.html.

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