Professor Sun Xianzhong’s Deliberative Opinions on the Personality Rights Part of the Civil Code

Professor Sun Xianzhong, a member of the Constitution and Law Committee of the National People’s Congress, a member of the CASS Academic Committee and a research fellow at CASS Law Institute, recently put forward two deliberative opinions on the Draft Personality Rights Part of the Civil Code, which was submitted to the Twelfth Session of the Standing Committee of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress for deliberation on August 22, 2019.

Profession Sun’s deliberative opinions include two parts: general opinions and specific opinions. In the general opinions, he pointed out that, in accordance with the requirement of the CPC Central Committee, the purpose of the Personality Rights Part of the Civil Code is to solve the legislative problems relating to the protection of personality rights. Currently this part of the Civil Code has basically met this requirement. However, a few problems remain to be solved.

First, the arrangement of articles in this part should take personality as its basic starting point. According to Article 13 of the General Provisions of the Civil Law, the personality of a natural person begins with his birth and ends with his death. Therefore, the articles in this part should take the rights of a natural person as its legislative basis. However, some of the articles in the current draft are not related to personality or personality rights, let alone the protection of personality rights. For example, some articles are about human cells and genes, which are not related to personality. All rights in civil law are the rights of specific subjects. The provisions on human cells in this draft are rules that restrict certain industries, rather protect personal rights.

Secondly, from the perspective of legislative intention, the purpose of the protection of personality rights is to prevent and remedy infringements of personality rights. The content of some provisions is not compatible with this legislative intention and the problems they try to solve have already been solved by other laws. For example, this part contains many provisions on family relations and contract law that should be deleted.

Thirdly, the current draft adopts the method of enumeration of types of rights. However, this method has the problem of inexhaustive enumeration and gives the people the negative impression of “legally prescribed types of personality rights”. Many people demand the addition of new types of rights on ground that a right not enumerated in the law is not protected by the law. Professor Sun suggests that the following special provision be added to Article 2 of this draft law to explain and solve this issue: “The types of personality rights enumerated in this Part shall not constitute any restriction on any personality right or personality interest protected by any other law.”

And fourthly, more attention should be paid to the precision of the definition of some concepts.

On the basis of the above general opinions, Professor Sun has put forward a series of opinions concerning specific provisions in the draft law.