Apathy has become a problem which endangers Chinese society, in part because those assisting the injured could be exposed to liability. With reference to both law and morality, the longstanding issue of ‘duty to rescue’ is explored in the Chinese socio-legal context. It remains highly controversial whether it is legitimate or justifiable to impose a legal duty on ‘Good Samaritans’ to assist people who are in perilous situations. Reference is also made to the legislative response of other major jurisdictions, which are examined and compared taking into account their social and legal specificities. A tentative conclusion is provided that China should take a pragmatic position: in between harsh civil law jurisdictions, and common law jurisdictions (which have traditionally been averse to making moral duties actionable legal claims). Arguably, Good Samaritan laws can provide a moral compass that directs the public appropriately in assisting people in distress. Law should not only reflect society’s moral values; law also has a role to play in reshaping morality in China’s rapidly changing society.
Qingxiu Bu, The Good Samaritan in the Chinese Society: Morality vis-à-vis Law, Liverpool Law Review (2016). First Online: 24 December 2016. DOI: 10.1007/s10991-016-9190-2.