Friday, September 1, 2006
A follow-up to my previous post on the latest defamation suit brought by a business in response for unfavorable reporting: I suggested in that post that the Shenzhen court hearing this case had acted improperly by hastily freezing the assets of the defendant journalists without any notice. Now I find that the Shenzhen court may have violated a Supreme People's Court directive in accepting the case at all. In the Reply on Several Questions Regarding the Adjudication of Defamation Cases (最高人民法院关于审理名誉权案件若干问题的解答), issued Aug. 7, 1993, the Supreme People's Court explicitly stated (Para. 6):
Where a lawsuit is brought against an author and a news publication unit, the author and the news publication unit shall both be listed as defendants, but where the author is administratively under the news publication unit and the work was created in the course of the author's performance of his duties, only the [news publication] unit shall be listed as defendants. (对作者和新闻出版单位都提起诉讼的，将作者和新闻出版单位均列为被告，但作者与新闻出版单位为隶属关系，作品系作者履行职务所形成的，只列单位为被告.) [Note: In the original Chinese, the term "author" can be read as singular or plural.]
Seems pretty open and shut. Have I missed something? Comments welcome.
Incidentally, the Financial Times reports that "Taiwanese electronics giant Hon Hai [which is actually the plaintiff's parent] has moved to head off criticism from the Chinese media by cutting the libel damages it is seeking from two journalists from Rmb30m ($3.8m) to just Rmb1 and promising to unfreeze their assets."