Fundamental Change in Circumstances

 By Susan Ning, Tao Huang, and Yang Yang

As was the case throughout the world, the global economic downturn beginning in 2008 caused many in the Chinese market to face difficulties in fully performing executory contacts which had been formed prior to the crisis. As such, many parties to such contracts requested modification or even rescission of their contracts under the changed circumstances. As a response to these trends, the Judicial Interpretation on Contract Law II was issued by the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter the “SPC”) to further clarify certain legal rules under current Chinese Contract Law . In particular, Article 26, Chapter 4 of the Judicial Interpretation on Contract Law II (hereinafter “Article 26” or the “Fundamental Change in Circumstances” Provision") provides guidance on a party’s right to modify or rescind a valid contract when a Fundamental Change of Circumstances occurs after contract formation. A Fundamental Change of Circumstances in this regard is differentiated from a force majeure event and does not cover changes that may arise from normal commercial risks, and under which the purpose of the contract would be frustrated or performance will result in extreme unfairness.

Continue Reading New Provision Could Change Contract Law in China but Judges Remain Conservative