The ultimate victims in a monopolized market are the consumers in large and dispersed numbers. The enforcement of law relies on the public and private legal resources, and the effective private enforcement of law requires a collective redress system.
Consumer disputes occur more frequently with the development of economy and the awakened mass on legal consciousness in China. Zhejiang Provincial Consumer Committee of China is trying to file a lawsuit against the Shanghai Railways Bureau from the beginning of 2015. Against the largest E-commerce company of China, Alibaba which is also listed in the U.S. a class action has been filed by American investors in New York for false and misleading statements in the January 2015.
In 4 February 2015, the Supreme People’s Court of China had released a judicial interpretation on the public interest litigation, but the Chinese legal community still lacks the practical experiences. The representative action with indeterminate numbers of plaintiffs could not play its promised role due to the political anxiousness concerning the mass incidents. Chinese courts have heard 482,545 lawsuits of first instance on consumer’s rights between 2010 and 2013, and the number of civil and commercial first instance lawsuits is 28,785,173 in the same period. The number of lawsuits related to consumer’s rights is only 1.68% in civil and commercial first instance lawsuits. Also, the Chinese consumer protection associations accepted 2,519,340 complaints during 2010 and 2013, and the number of lawsuits related to consumer’s rights submitted to the court is only 19.15% in first instance.
U.S. political and legal culture supports the litigation to be one of the positive measures to govern the society. Comparatively, judicial departments in civil law countries perform limited social and political function, and it’s harder to set public policy or social orders by the way of private litigation. Nevertheless, the differences of social culture and legal systems between China and the U.S. are far too much, which had been proved by plenty of literatures.
China shares the same concern with EU towards the U.S. style class action on the possibility of vexatious litigation. Therefore providing a model with a less robust application of class action is necessary.
This research focuses on the comparative study between the roadmap of European horizontal framework of collective redress in competition and consumer protection, and the experiences of the public interest litigation of China. There are 7 issues to be studied: (1) recognition of the plaintiff's qualification; (2) the dissemination of litigation information; (3) determination of the relationship between the private interest litigation and public interest litigation; (4) the Contradiction between the avoidance of vexatious litigation and the lack of litigation motivation; (5) funding of public interest litigation; (6) the relationship between the court and supervision department; (7) alternative dispute resolution method.