Hague Convention Service in China

How to Serve a Chinese Company

How to Serve a Chinese Company

There are several challenges that plaintiffs may face when trying to assert a claim against a Chinese legal entity. Both the United States and China are member-states and parties to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial & Extrajudicial Documents (the “Hague Service Convention”). The Hague Service Convention (the “HSC”) applies to any civil lawsuit when service must be made in China and when the address of the entity or the person to be served is known. The HSC mandates that service of process be made by way of the Chinese Ministry of Justice (the “CMJ”). The CMJ is China’s central authority under the Hague. Notably, China has objected to accepting any service outside of the CMJ.

Service of Process

Several steps must be taken in order to legally and properly serve a lawsuit against a Chinese company. First, in order to serve a Chinese entity, all of the documents must be translated into simplified written Chinese. You must also wire payment to the CMJ along with the required forms. After completing this process, you have to wait. According to the CMJ, service may take four to six months, and some litigants have to wait two years before proof of service is returned. While this process can be both long and frustrating, the HSC does provide an avenue for interim relief when it comes to urgent matters, including preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders. Moreover, if Chinese authorities have failed to serve process within six months, a U.S. court can allow for alternative methods of service under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(f)(3). This rule permits service of process by any means that is not prohibited by international agreement as long as service does not violate due process.  Alternatively, Ancillary can assist by providing status affidavits along the way and default judgment motion papers after six months.

Alternate Methods of Service

If you are unable to find an address for the Chinese company, or if a U.S. subsidiary or U.S. legal counsel is already involved on the company’s behalf so that documents may not need to be translated and sent abroad, then you may be able to avoid having to go through the HSC’s process. If this is the case, you can request that the court authorize the initial service of process under Rule 4(f)(3). The appropriate method of service under the rule is dependent upon the situation and may include publication, fax, email, or online message.

International Litigation Support

If you need to serve a lawsuit on a Chinese entity or need to serve any foreign defendant you are suing, contact Ancillary Legal today. Our team has vast experience with providing full-service legal support domestically and internationally, including service of process. We can also assist with depositions, translations, videography, and more at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting.