Sentences in China’s Sanlu Milk Case

Speaking of corporate crimes, this news report in Caijing states that death sentences have been awarded by an Intermediate Court to three persons and life imprisonment for one in the contaminated milk case. This comes within mere 4 months of the scandal that unfolded in September last year.

While criminal punishment will certainly serve as a deterrent, questions have been raised at the Conglomerate Blog about the lack of effective civil remedies in China which may have stood to benefit the victims.

About the author

Umakanth Varottil

Umakanth Varottil is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He specializes in corporate law and governance, mergers and acquisitions and cross-border investments. Prior to his foray into academia, Umakanth was a partner at a pre-eminent law firm in India.


  • Sir,

    Isn’t there an element of adulteration of food in this case, for which the punishment would essentially have to be under the criminal law? I understand even the PFA Act (in India) is undergoing substantial changes (there is a new food safety and standards act, 2006) which limits liabilities of directors of a company to just monetary penalties.

  • Thanks Krishnan, for your observation. There would be criminal liability on the offending persons under the PFA Act in India, although it would take much longer to bring the offenders to book compared to China, and they would probably get a much lesser sentence. But, on the question of civil remedies available to the victims, the position in India may not be far different from that of China owing the absence of a well-developed and robust class action mechanism.

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