Full Text of the Guiding Case
Main Points of the Adjudication
[Where] an owner or custodian of a motor vehicle lends his  motor vehicle license plate to another person for use as a counterfeit plate, or [he] has knowledge that another person is using his motor vehicle license plate as a counterfeit plate but does not put [this act] to a stop, and the motor vehicle bearing the counterfeit license plate has a traffic accident and causes harm to others, the owner or the custodian of the motor vehicle and the owner or the custodian of the motor vehicle bearing the counterfeit license plate should bear joint and several liability [for the accident].
Related Legal Rule(s)
Article 8 of the Tort Liability Law of the People’s Republic of China
Article 16 of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China
Basic Facts of the Case
At approximately 5:30  on November 25, 2008, a truck bearing counterfeit license plate Lu F41703 [and] driven by defendant LIN Zedong (林则东) was travelling on a certain section of Tongsan Expressway and collided with a passenger vehicle traveling in the same direction [and] driven by defendant ZHOU Yaping (周亚平). The two vehicles rushed down the embankment. The passenger vehicle rolled over, causing FENG Yongju, a passenger in the vehicle, to die at the scene. Upon the traffic police department’s determination, the truck driver LIN Zedong bore primary liability, the passenger vehicle driver ZHOU Yaping bore secondary liability, and FENG Yongju bore no liability for the accident. The plaintiffs ZHAO Chunming (赵春明), a certain ZHAO (赵某某), a certain FENG (冯某某), and a certain HOU (侯某某) are, respectively, the husband, son, father, and mother of the deceased, FENG Yongju.
The truck registered with the vehicle administration department [as bearing] license plate Lu F41703 was not the truck that caused the traffic accident. The owner of the truck registered with that license plate was The Automobile Transport Company of Fushan District, Yantai Municipality (烟台市福山区汽车运输公司) (hereinafter referred to as “Fushan Company”), and [its] actual owner was defendant WEI Deping (卫德平). The truck had the compulsory third-party liability insurance for motor vehicles, [provided by] Yantai Center Branch of Yongan Property Insurance Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as “Yongan Insurance Company”).
The actual owner of the truck bearing license plate Lu F41703 as a counterfeit plate ([i.e.,] the truck that caused the traffic accident) was defendant WEI Guanghui (卫广辉). LIN Zedong was the driver employed by WEI Guanghui. As reflected in the registration information at the vehicle administration department, from April 26, 2004 to July 2, 2008, [the owner of] the truck registered with license plate Lu F41703 made 15 applications for a replacement plate and vehicle license on grounds of [their] damage or loss. The application form filed on August 23, 2007 by WEI Guanghui for a replacement vehicle license was affixed with the seal of Fushan Company. After the accident, Fushan Company sent personnel to the traffic police department to deal with matters related [to the accident]. In the course of handling [the case], WEI Guanghui stated that WEI Deping had knowledge of the counterfeit plate and received payment for the counterfeit plate, [and that] after the accident, WEI Guanghui borrowed from WEI Deping the insurance policy of the truck registered with license plate Lu F41703 to deal with the accident, and the insurance policy was still kept by WEI Guanghui.
The registered owner of the passenger vehicle involved in the accident was defendant ZHU Rongming (朱荣明), but the vehicle had changed hands several times and the current actual owner was ZHOU Yaping. ZHU Rongming neither controlled the passenger vehicle nor benefited from the operation of the passenger vehicle. Defendant Shanghai Tengfei Construction Engineering Co., Ltd. (上海腾飞建设工程有限公司) (hereinafter referred to as “Tengfei Company”) was the employer of ZHOU Yaping, but, at the time of the accident, ZHOU Yaping was not performing [job-related] duties. The passenger vehicle had the compulsory third-party liability insurance for motor vehicles, [provided by] the Shanghai Branch of PICC Property and Casualty Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as “PICC Company”).
Results of the Adjudication
On May 18, 2010, the Baoshan District People’s Court of Shanghai Municipality rendered the (2009) Bao Min Yi (Min) Chu Zi No. 1128 Civil Judgment:
- [The court orders] defendants WEI Guanghui and LIN Zedong to compensate the four plaintiffs for funeral expenses, mental injury solatium, death damages, travelling expenses, lost wages, accommodation expenses, living expenses of dependents, and lawyers’ fees in a total amount of 396,863 yuan.
- [The court orders] defendant ZHOU Yaping to compensate the four plaintiffs for funeral expenses, mental injury solatium, death damages, travelling expenses, lost wages, accommodation expenses, living expenses of dependents, and lawyers’ fees in a total amount of 170,084 yuan.
- [The court orders] defendants Fushan Company and WEI Deping to bear joint and several liability for the first compensation obligation stated in the main body of the aforementioned judgment; [and] defendants WEI Guanghui, LIN Zedong, and ZHOU Yaping to mutually bear joint and several liability for the first and second compensation obligations stated in the main body of the aforementioned judgment.
- [The court] rejects the four plaintiffs’ other litigation claims.
After the judgment was pronounced, WEI Deping appealed. On August 5, 2010, the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court rendered the (2010) Hu Er Zhong Min Yi (Min) Zhong Zi No. 1353 Civil Judgment: [the court] rejects the appeal and upholds the original judgment.
Reasons for the Adjudication
In the effective judgment, the court opined:  based on the determination of liability for the traffic accident in this case, LIN Zedong, the driver of the truck causing the accident, bore primary liability for the accident. WEI Guanghui was the actual owner of the truck that caused the accident and also the employer of LIN Zedong. Therefore, WEI Guanghui and LIN Zedong should jointly and severally bear primary liability for compensating the losses arising from the accident in this case. The Lu F41703 truck insured by Yongan Insurance Company was not the actual truck that caused the accident, and [Yongan Insurance Company] had no knowledge that the motor vehicle license plate Lu 41703 was [used] as a counterfeit plate [by] the truck that caused the accident; therefore, Yongan Insurance Company was not liable for compensation for the accident in this case. Based on the determination of liability for the traffic accident, ZHOU Yaping, the driver of the passenger vehicle in this case, bore secondary liability for the accident, and ZHOU Yaping was the actual owner of that passenger vehicle; therefore, ZHOU Yaping should bear secondary liability for compensating the losses arising from the accident in this case.
Although ZHU Rongming was the registered owner of the passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle had changed hands several times and ZHU Rongming neither controlled the vehicle nor benefited from its operation, and therefore he bore no liability for the accident in this case. Although ZHOU Yaping was employed by Tengfei Company, ZHOU Yaping was not performing his duties for Tengfei Company at the time of the accident, and therefore Tengfei Company also bore no liability in this case. As for PICC Company, which insured the passenger vehicle, since the deceased, FENG Yongju, was a person inside the vehicle, the compulsory traffic accident liability insurance for motor vehicles was, in accordance with law, inapplicable; therefore, PICC Company bore no liability in this case. In addition, although the proportions of liability borne by WEI Guanghui and LIN Zedong on the one side and ZHOU Yaping on the other side were different, the occurrence of the accident was a joint tortious act of both sides. Therefore, WEI Guanghui and LIN Zedong, with respect to ZHOU Yaping’s share of liability, and ZHOU Yaping, with respect to WEI Deping and LIN Zedong’s share of liability, should bear joint and several liability.
Fushan Company and WEI Deping, the registered owner and actual owner of the Lu F41703 truck, knew that WEI Guanghui et al. used [their] own motor vehicle license plate as a counterfeit plate but did not put [this act] to a stop. They also provided [WEI Guanghui et al. with] convenience, conniving at [their] driving on public roads the truck bearing the counterfeit plate. The act of Fushan Company and WEI Deping was a type of lending of motor vehicle license plates to others and that act violated relevant legal provisions concerning motor vehicle administration stated in the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China. Lending motor vehicle license plates to others would connive at [their] using counterfeit plates to drive on the road motor vehicles that did not meet the technical standards for safety, and [thus] increase the hazardousness of road traffic, and endanger public safety. [Where] a motor vehicle bearing a counterfeit plate causes an accident, the lender of the license plate is also at fault. With respect to the liability for compensation that the [owner or custodian of the] vehicle bearing the counterfeit plate and causing the accident should be responsible for, the lender of the license plate should bear joint and several liability. Therefore, Fushan Company and WEI Deping should bear joint and several liability for the share of liability borne by WEI Guanghui and LIN Zedong’s side.
* The citation of this translation of the Guiding Case is:《赵春明等诉烟台市福山区汽车运输公司卫德平等机动车交通事故责任纠纷案》(ZHAO Chunming et al. v. The Automobile Transport Company of Fushan District, Yantai Municipality, WEI Deping, et al., A Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Liability Dispute), China Guiding Cases Project, English Guiding Case (EGC19), Feb. 4, 2014 Edition, available at https://cgc.law.stanford.edu/guiding-cases/guiding-case-19.
This document was primarily prepared by QI Yingdi, Mark Shope, XIANG Nan, and Lynn O. Zheng, and was reviewed by XIA Shengying. The document was finalized by Hanna Kim, Dimitri Phillips, and Dr. Mei Gechlik. Minor editing, such as splitting long paragraphs, adding a few words included in square brackets, and boldfacing the headings to correspond with those boldfaced in the original Chinese version, was done to make the piece more comprehensible to readers. The following text, otherwise, is a direct translation of the original text and reflects formatting of the Chinese document released by the Supreme People’s Court.
The following Guiding Case was discussed and passed by the Adjudication Committee of the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China and was released on November 8, 2013, available at http://www.chinacourt.org/article/detail/2013/11/id/1150427.shtml. See also最高人民法院关于发布第五批指导性案例的通知 (The Supreme People’s Court’s Notice Concerning the Release of the Fifth Batch of Guiding Cases), Nov. 8, 2013, available at http://www.chinacourt.org/law/detail/2013/11/id/147238.shtml.
 Translators’ note: “he” and “his” as used herein are, unless the context indicates otherwise, gender-neutral terms that also refer to “she” and “her”.
 Translators’ note: the Chinese text does not specify whether this is 5:30 a.m. or p.m.
 Translators’ note: the Chinese text does not specify which court opined. But given the context, this should be the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.