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Japan: Civil Code Review Eyed for Consumers
Source: http://the-japan-news.com
Source Date: Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Focus: Public Administration Schools, Thematic Website, Institution and HR Management
Country: Japan
Created: Sep 03, 2013

A Justice Ministry panel is set to start a major review of the Civil Code this month, the first since the law was established in 1896, with a view to enhancing consumer protection.

Rules on the terms of contracts between companies and consumers are among the possible revisions that the Civil Code division of the Legislative Council is expected to consider adding.

The changes aim to prevent cases in which consumers find themselves in trouble after concluding insurance contracts, subscribing to mobile phone services or buying products online without fully understanding terms and conditions.

The forthcoming review is expected to cover about 260 points.

An interim draft created by the panel in February called for requiring that parties to a contract agree to usage terms and allow opportunities for consumers to become aware of terms before signing contracts.

While a court verdict has nullified contracts that are deemed to run counter to public order and morals, the Civil Code contains no clause on acts of gaining excessive profit by exploiting weaknesses of contract parties.

The panel may thus consider a new rule that voids legal acts of gaining excessive profit by exploiting poverty or lack of knowledge and experience. It is hoped that such a rule will cause terms of contracts to be made understandable to ordinary people.

The panel aims to finalize its proposals by January 2015. The ministry plans to submit a bill to revise the Civil Code during an ordinary parliamentary session in that year.

The government, however, could face opposition from business circles. The Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) has expressed concern over possible new rules, saying that there are few cases of contract-related issues between businesses and consumers.

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