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March 15, 2011

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Lawsuit on outdated chocolate withdrawn

A SHOPPER taking advantage of China's consumer laws withdrew a lawsuit against a well-known store yesterday, after reaching an out-of-court settlement.

The consumer, surnamed Hu, had sued claiming he spent 1,536 yuan (US$234) on 12 Lindt boxes of chocolates at a store on Nanjing Road W. on February 14 which were two days past their shelf life.

Based on China's food safety law, Hu said he was entitled to a refund and compensation of 10 times the cost.

But the two sides reached an agreement before the hearing scheduled at the Jing'an District People's Court.

Hu did not disclose the compensation sum, saying it was a commercial secret.

Judges said nearly 90 percent of plaintiffs in the 99 cases concerning consumers' rights handled by the court last year were individuals - known as "professional fake finders" - who make a living out of exposing counterfeit goods and profiting from breaches of consumer law.

Of the total, plaintiffs in 69 cases accused sellers of fraud - twice as many as in 2009.

"It indicates that ordinary consumers are still not fully safeguarding their interests, while the number of professional fake finders is increasing," said Yao Zheng, a chief judge of the court.

Also yesterday, Xuhui District People's Court ruled that a professional fake finder, surnamed Yuan, should receive a refund of 1,378 yuan and compensation of 10 times the cost from a supermarket.

Yuan bought two bottles of Wuliangye, a well-known Chinese spirit, on August 24, last year. The alcohol was found to be fake.


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