Court Rules Red Envelopes as Gifts Not Loans

In daily life, it is common for friends to send red envelopes or transfer money via WeChat. However, a recent case in Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Court distinguished between the nature of WeChat red envelopes and transfers in an economic dispute.

The court ruled that red envelopes are considered gifts, while transfers are regarded as loans. As a result, the defendant, Mr. Zhou, was ordered to repay the plaintiff, Ms. Liu, a loan amounting to 12,900 yuan.

Ms. Liu claimed that she met Mr. Zhou through WeChat in 2019. Shortly after getting acquainted, Mr. Zhou, citing financial difficulties, borrowed money from her multiple times.

Between 2020 and 2021, Ms. Liu transferred a total of 15,669 yuan to Mr. Zhou through bank transfers and WeChat red envelopes. Despite numerous reminders, Mr. Zhou refused to repay the amount. Mr. Zhou argued that the funds in question were not loans but gifts.

After reviewing the case, the court concluded that Ms. Liu provided funds to Mr. Zhou through both WeChat red envelopes and transfers. WeChat red envelopes inherently imply a “gift,” and considering the specific circumstances of the case, the amounts sent by Ms. Liu as WeChat red envelopes, totaling 2,769 yuan, were considered gifts and did not require repayment.

Regarding the 12,900 yuan transferred by Ms. Liu through WeChat, Mr. Zhou failed to provide evidence proving that Ms. Liu intended it as a gift. Considering Mr. Zhou’s previous borrowing and repayment situations, the court deemed the amount sent through WeChat transfers as a loan, and Mr. Zhou was ordered to repay it.

The court emphasized the need to differentiate between WeChat transfers and red envelopes, stating that although both involve payments through the WeChat app, their nature should be distinguished based on the app’s different functionalities.

WeChat red envelopes, reflecting the social aspect of the app, are considered voluntary gifts. On the other hand, WeChat transfers, lacking the element of “gift,” are a common payment method between social entities. In cases where someone claims transferred funds are gifts, they need to provide corresponding evidence; otherwise, they may bear the consequences of insufficient proof.

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