Dacheng wins court’s support for psychological injury compensations

In Alon Maor, Anat Maor v Yunnan Dali Transportation Group, attorneys He Haojun and Xu Pengwei from Dacheng’s Kunming office argued that damages for psychological injury should still apply in breach-of-contract cases. Their argument was supported by the Intermediate People’s Court of Kunming, the court of last instance.

In June 2010, Dana Maor, an Israeli, was travelling from Dali to Liuku on a bus. Due to the driver’s carelessness an accident took place, claiming the life of Dana Maor and inflicting injuries on a few other passengers. The police checked the scene and believed that the driver should bear full responsibility for the accident.

In June 2012, Dana Maor’s parents entrusted attorneys He Haojun and Xu Pengwei to represent them in the case. After careful analysis, the two found that the claimant could bring an action either on the basis of breach of contract or of tort, while the latter choice would be more beneficial for the claimant.

However, as the case had exceeded the statute of limitations of tort, the claimant could only sue the Dali Transportation Group on account of breach of contract, which meant that damages for psychological injury could not be recovered.

Having researched a large number of cases and reviewed domestic and foreign literature on whether damages for psychological injury could be claimed in breach-of-contract proceedings, they brought up the issue of concurrence of rights of claim: that is, when facts of a case meet both the constitutive requirements of breach of contract and that of tort, the claimant holds but one right of claim, but with two legal footings, i.e. breach of contract and tort; as to the content of claim, it is decided by integrating stipulations from both perspectives and as a result the claim can only be enhanced rather than otherwise, i.e. the claimant is entitled to the best possible outcome for himself; therefore, damages for psychological injury should also apply in breach-of-contract proceedings.

The Intermediate People’s Court adopted the opinion and supported the claim that the defendant should pay ¥100,000 (£10,000) in damages for psychological injury,
the largest amount ever ruled by Kunming’s courts in relation to proceedings brought from the perspective of breach of contract.