A February 12 article by Dune Lawrence on Bloomberg.com offers several keen insights into the legal and political challenges facing a group of victims seeking collective relief in the Chinese courts for injuries caused by melamine-tainted milk last year. The article quotes a Chinese lawyer whose thoughts echo those made in previous commentaries about the impact of the government’s preference for “admistrative” action over private remedies (see previous CAB entries dated January 21, 2009, November 9, 2008, and October 1, 2008),
China’s government prefers to take administrative action rather than let courts handle politically sensitive cases, according to Ed Lehman, the founder of Chinese law firm Lehman Lee & Xu. . . . After the government organized compensation and sentenced two dairy company executives to death over the matter, “they think they’ve done what needs to be done,” he says.
The article notes, that despite the Chinese government’s reluctance to allow private remedies through collective action, Chinese law does allow for group lawsuits and there have been cases in which successful group actions have resulted in monetary recoveries. So far, though, efforts to obtain a private remedy with the China’s Supreme People’s Court in the tainted milk case have met with silence.