In order to standardize the standard terms of contracts for online trading platforms, guide the lawful fulfillment of contractual obligations by operators of online trading platforms, protect lawful rights and interests of consumers and operators and facilitate the sustainable and sound development of Internet economics, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has formulated the Guidelines for Standardizing the Standard Terms of Contracts for Online Trading Platforms(hereinafter referred to as “the Guidelines”), which is published for implementation on July 30th 2014.
According to the Guidelines, operators of online trading platforms which use the standard terms of contracts in operating activities shall conform to provisions of laws, regulations and rules, and specify both parties' rights and obligations on the principles of fairness, openness and good faith. Operators of online trading platforms which revise the standard terms of contracts shall follow the principles of openness, continuation and reasonableness, and the revised contents shall be announced and notified to Contract Counterparts at least seven days in advance. Operators of online trading platforms shall present the standard terms of contracts or the electronic link thereof at a noticeable place of the homepages of their websites, and technically ensure that operators or consumers on the platforms can read and save such terms conveniently and completely. Operators of online trading platforms which use the standard terms of contracts shall prompt Contract Counterparts in a noticeable way to note the prices or expenses, performance term and method, safety precautions and risk warnings, after-sale services, civil liabilities and other contents which have material interests with them and may affect their rights. Operators of online trading platforms shall explain the standard terms as per requirements of Contract Counterparts. Meanwhile, the Guidelines also encouraged operators of online trading platforms to take necessary technological means and management measures to ensure that operators on the platforms fulfill prompt and explanation obligations.
The Guidelines also regulates the remedies of consumers. Standard terms of contracts of online trading platforms may include the settlement of disputes agreed upon by the parties concerned. With regard to any small-amount and simple consumption dispute, the parties concerned shall be encouraged to adopt the mechanism on the settlement of online consumption disputes for rapid solution. Consumer associations, online trading industry associations or other consumer organizations shall be supported to solicit opinions from consumers on the standard terms of contracts of online trading platforms by means of symposiums, questionnaires, comments or otherwise. If it is found that any standard term of contract violates any provision of any laws, regulations and rules, a report may be made to the relevant competent department. If any standard term of contract of online trading platform infringes upon consumer rights and interests or violates any law, a complaint and report may be made to the relevant competent department. If a dispute arises between a consumer and an operator of online trading platform from any standard term of contract of the online trading platform, and therefore legal proceedings are instituted with a people's court, the relevant consumer association or other consumer organizations may support the consumer to do so in accordance with the law.
Promulgation of the Guidelines is not only good for standardizing the use of all kinds of statement in E-business, but also beneficial to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.