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Collective Lawsuit System Against Substandard Food In Process

Collective Lawsuit System Against Substandard Food In Process

Posted June. 22, 2004 22:18,   


Starting from next year, victims of substandard food who don’t take legal action will be rewarded if a victim who does wins a suit against food manufacturers.

During a cabinet meeting on June 22, the Office for Government Policy Coordination reported a plan to President Roh Moo-hyun of introducing a “collective lawsuit system against substandard food.” This will be the first case, except for the securities area, in which a collective lawsuit system will be applied.

“For those who are poisoned by food through meal service at school or other reasons, the government will plan to allow every individual to get rewarded if one of the victims wins a collective lawsuit against the manufacturers of the food under question.” Minister for Government Policy Coordination Han Duck-soo said in a briefing session. “We will establish a food safety law in July and move forward to pass it during the regular Assembly session in September.”

The Office for Government Policy Coordination reportedly plans to apply rewards of damages through collective lawsuits against not only the cafeterias of schools, hospitals, and companies, but also food manufacturers such as fast-food chains.

Chang Sang-jin, a manager of the food safety task-force team under the Office for Government Policy Coordination said, “If you wish to get rewarded by a collective lawsuit, you have to specifically demonstrate the cause and negative effects of the substandard food,” adding, “our targets will be extended to individual food restaurants as well as meal services at schools and other institutions.”

If collective lawsuits for damages caused by substandard food are permitted, every food manufacturer is likely to take extreme measures to improve food hygiene. Meanwhile, more disputes are also expected as possible bankruptcies of food companies may occur if lawsuits are too excessive.

The government will also introduce the lowest limit for its punishment system if unauthorized restaurants or substandard food manufactures sell poisonous food worth more than 30 million won, which may harm customers’ health. Regarding the excessive profits gained by selling substandard food, the government will collect twice the amount of the unfair profits.

Advanced countries such as the United States have already applied a system that stipulates that victims who don’t file suits can be rewarded just like a victim who experienced the same damages and wins the suit, if they can prove a causal sequence.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com