In recent years, as the share economy has developed in all respects of our social life, more urbanites choose to use online car-hailing as a preference for their daily travel.
However, do these car hailing platforms owe a duty to their passengers? For example, in the case that a passenger forgets his/her personal belongings in the car, who is responsible for the safety of the items and returning them back to their rightful owners?
According to the provisions of PRC’s Property Law, lost property which has been found shall be properly kept, and the finder shall inform the rights holder to claim the property or hand it over to the appropriate authority (typically a police station in practice) in a timely manner. The person who finds the property shall take proper care of the property before it is handed over or returned. The authority also needs to take proper care of the property before it is returned. A person who intentionally or with gross negligence causes damage to the property should be liable for the loss. The owner of the property, when claiming lost property, is obligated to reimburse the finders and/or authority the reasonable expenses incurred from the safekeeping of the property.
Therefore, if the driver of an online car-hailing platform picks up the property, he/she has the obligation to return. The passenger, on the other hand, needs to pay the reasonable and necessary delivery expenses for returning the forgotten property. If the driver refuses to return, it would be considered as unjust enrichment under the Civil Law of China. The passenger may file a lawsuit to the courts and request the return of such property accordingly. In this case, the driver has no right to request the reimbursement of delivery costs; Additionally, if the value of the forgotten property reaches a designated large sum of money, the driver may even be considered to have committed a crime.
Didi, as a well-known Chinese car-hailing platform, typically is not the one who directly picks up the lost items. However, drivers using the platform who find such lost property are likely to notify Didi or even hand it over to Didi. In this case, Didi has the obligation to inform the right holder and provide assistance in the communication between the parties. If Didi receives the property that is handed over, it shall keep the property in a proper way until it is returned. If the property is intentionally damaged or lost or due to the gross negligence of Didi is damaged or lost, in cases where Didi unreasonably refuses to assist the passenger to reach the driver, Didi may be liable for such loss.
Didi also issued the Special Rules for the Treatment of Forgotten Property in Online Car-hailing (Trial) as the platform regulation, which provide further regulations and explanations for the rights and obligations of passengers, drivers, and Didi. For example, when a passenger asks a driver to return the forgotten property by courier delivery, the passenger should bear the cost of such delivery. After verifying the passenger’s information, Didi may help the passenger contact the driver.
As a newly emerging industry, the rules of using car-hailing needs to be further refined and standardized. If you want to learn more rules for car-hailing, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.