On December 24, 2014, the Ministry of Commerce promulgated the (Pilot) Procedure and Provisions for the Formulation of the Trading Rules by Third Party Internet Retail Platforms (hereinafter, the "Provisions"), which shall be followed by an operator of a third party Internet retail platform when its trading rules are formulated, amended or implemented. The Provisions will come into force on April 1, 2015.
The Provisions specifically stipulate that the trading rules refer to the open rules involving social and public interest formulated, amended and implemented by the operator of a third party Internet retail platform for application to nonspecific entities for use of the platform's services. The Provisions also require that the formulation, amendment and implementation of the trading rules of a third party Internet retail platform shall follow the principles of openness, fairness, justice; comply with laws and regulations; pay attention to social morality; and not disrupt social and economic order or undermine social and public interest.
The Provisions also provide that when the operator of a third party Internet retail platform designates or modifies the trading rules, opinions shall be solicited in a conspicuous place on the homepage of the website for no less than seven days. Except for portions relating to trade secrets, the operator of a third party Internet retail platform shall release the trading rules in a conspicuous place of the website seven days prior to their implementation. The operator of a third party Internet retail platform shall provide an explanation about the trading rules within seven days after the day the request is lodged by an interested party. Meanwhile, the operator of a third party Internet retail platform is also required to submit the trading rules required under the Provisions, the public opinions as solicited, and the status for handling of and responses to the opinions by registering in the recordation system for the trading rules formulated by third party Internet retail platforms.
The trading rules formulated by a third party Internet retail platform required to be submitted for recordation under the Provisions include:
- Basic rules. They refer to fundamental rules for the registration of Internet retailers and consumers on a third party platform and for the establishment, validity and performance of transactions.
- Liability and risk sharing rules. They refer to the rules for sharing civil liabilities among the operator of a third party Internet retail platform and Internet retailers and consumers, for the exemption of liabilities, and for risk sharing.
- Intellectual property protection rules. They refer to the rules for intellectual property protection and prevention of fake and poor quality goods.
- Credit rating rules. They refer to the rules for credit rating services provided by the operator of a third party Internet retail platform to both trading parties and for the collection, recording and disclosure of the credit standing of both trading parties.
- Consumer interest protection rules. They refer to the rules for protecting lawful rights such as a consumer's right to know, reasonable right to return goods, and right to be compensated and for protecting the personal information and trading records of consumers.
- Information disclosure rules. They refer to the rules for the real-name registration of Internet retailers and the review of their statutory operation qualifications by the operator of a third party Internet retail platform.
- Rules for preventing and curbing illegal information. They refer to the rules formulated by the operator of a third party Internet retail platform to prevent information or Internet advertisements about goods and services which violate any law or regulation of the state from being posted on the platform.
- Trading dispute resolution rules. They refer to the mechanisms and rules formulated by the operator of a third party Internet retail platform to resolve the disputes between online retailers and consumers
- Provisions regarding the application of the trading rules. They refer to the provisions regarding the subjects, scope and duration of the trading rules.
- Provisions regarding the modification of the trading rules. They refer to the provisions concerning the procedure and manners in which the trading rules are changed or modified.
- Other necessary trading rules or measures relating to the rules.