On April 25, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) issued for public comments the Draft Regulation on Relevant Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Monopoly Dispute Case (“Draft”). The long-awaited Draft, for the first time, provides a substantive framework governing the trial of civil monopoly case in terms of jurisdiction, plaintiff qualification, burden of proof, remedies, and other important matters. Below are some highlights of the Draft:
- Centralized Jurisdiction: The Draft clarifies that a civil monopoly case shall be handled by the intermediate people's court of the city where the people's government of the province or autonomous region is located, the intermediate court of the city specifically designated by the State Council, the intermediate people's court of the municipality directly under Central Government as well as the intermediate people's court designated by the SPC.
- Plaintiff’s Qualification: In accordance with Article 50 of the Anti-Monopoly Law, the Draft provides legal standing for both direct and indirect parties, including business operators and consumers.
- Burden of Proof: The Draft relieves the plaintiff’s burden of proof in two circumstances. First, with respect to monopolistic agreements, the aggrieved party does not need to prove that the alleged monopolistic agreement has eliminated or restricted competition, unless the defendant has provided sufficient proof to the contrary. Second, with respect to abuse of dominant market position, the dominant marketplace of the alleged party engaging in monopolistic conduct is assumed by the court if the plaintiff has proven such situations as where the alleged actor is a public utility company, the exclusive licensee in accordance with law or administrative regulations, or within a market lacking effective competition.
- Relationship between administrative investigation and civil litigation: The Draft grants the aggrieved party the option to either directly bring the claim before a court or wait until applicable regulatory bodies such as the National Development and Reform Commission or State Administration for Industry and Commerce, have published its decision or sanction. In case of concurrent proceedings, the court may decide to suspend the proceeding pending the outcome of an administrative investigation.
- Regulation on Relevant Issues Concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Civil Monopoly Dispute Cases (Draft for Comment)
- Issuing Authority: the Supreme People’s Court
- Date of Issuance Apr 24, 2011 / Comment due on Jun 1, 2011