New civil code focuses on the protection of the interests of the disabled

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China’s first-ever civil code has been passed by the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress on May 28, 2020, and will be implemented from 2021. The new Civil Code includes nearly 30 articles directly related to the protection of the rights and interests of people with disabilities.

The Civil Code fully affirms the equal status of persons with disabilities as civil subjects, and contains language on the equal protection of their civil rights. Article 1041 clearly mentions the “protection of the legal rights and interests of women, minors, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.” The new code also contains provisions on the protection of the civil rights of disabled citizen, clarifying what responsibility families have in terms of supporting relatives who are unable to work or live independently, and the rights of those who are unable to work to receive their portion of inheritances, while relaxing the restrictions on the adoption of disabled minors to enable more youngsters with disabilities to enjoy the warmth of a family.

The Civil Code also aims to improve the system to determine civil capacity and the system of guardianship. The possibility of being defined as “unable to answer or fully answer for one’s actions” according to the “General Principles of Civil Law” is extended from mental patients to all adults; while the guardianship system has been expanded from three articles in the “General Rules of Civil Law” to a single section of 14 articles. The Federation of Persons with Disabilities can appeal to the People’s Court to determine the civil capacity of adults and revoke their guardianship.

The Civil Code strengthens the division of tort liability involving persons with disabilities. It helps to better safeguard the rights of persons lacking civil legal capacity, including those with disabilities, and allows them to assume responsibility to a reasonable degree.