China's top legislature might add mental distress to conditions covered by the Tort Law to improve civil rights protection, under legislation submitted on Monday.
The long-awaited draft Tort Law, designed to provide compensation for those whose rights are violated, was tabled at the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for a second reading.
"Existing laws don't clearly stipulate provisions for mental distress, but there are already many cases in which such claims have been made," the Vice Chairman of the NPC Law Committee, Li Shishi, told lawmakers.
The 1987 General Principles of the Civil Law only cover rights to life and health, name, image, reputation and honor.
However, with an increase in claims for mental distress, the Supreme People's Court in 2001 issued a judiciary interpretation that provided a legal basis for courts to accept and hear such cases.
Li said in most cases, people experience both economic loss and mental distress when their civil rights are violated, so the latter should also be covered by law.
Under the draft, only those whose life or health are seriously damaged would be entitled to compensation. These include cases in which victims eventually die, are crippled or experience serious psychological damage.
The law draft was reviewed by the 9th NPC Standing Committee in December, 2002 as a part of the Civil Code draft. The NPC Standing Committee then decided to debate the nine law drafts, which constitute the Civil Code, one by one.
The draft covers compensation for a wide range of cases, including harm from defective products, traffic accidents, medical accidents, job injury, pollution, Internet abuse and even harm caused by other people's pets.