Are you struggling with service of process in China?
Service of process in China can be fraught with difficulties. China further complicates the situation by not allowing informal serves. Nevertheless, HKPS has conducted dozens of serves in China. And, furthermore, to our knowledge none has been disputed.
China and the Hague Service Convention: the facts
Let’s start with some background: The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, commonly known as the Hague Convention on Process Serve, includes China as a signatory. However, Chinese authorities oppose any service of documents in the country through any of the Section 10 alternatives. Therefore, to ensure full compliance with the Hague Convention, you must go through the Chinese Central Authority for your serve.
In addition, you must arrange for a formal translation of the entire document and all attachments. The translation must use accurate Chinese nomenclature, official names and titles, and the correct names for countries and territories. For instance, Hong Kong should be referred to as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. You should exercise extreme caution when referring to Taiwan, as Chinese authorities will reject any documents that contain translation or nomenclature errors. Keep in mind that formally translating a large legal document can be a time-consuming and, unsurprisingly, expensive process
How long to complete a Hague Service of Process in China?
Chinese action under the Hague Convention is notoriously slow. It is not unusual for it to take as long as two years before an applicant receives notification of service having been effected. On average, service time is reported as being typically 4 – 6 months.
How can HKPS effect Service of Process in China?
HKPS can take documents into China and deliver them to your Defendant. This is an informal serve, conducted outside of the Hague Convention.
The server delivers the documents in China and then returns to Hong Kong. We debrief him and, using his notes and photographs, we prepare a comprehensive report for the client. The report includes details of the server’s actions in China. We send the report to the client, who then prepares the affidavit in his own terms and sends the finalised document through us to the server. Finally, the server swears the affidavit in front of a Commissioner of Oaths, solicitor or Notary Public. We the return the sworn document to the client.
The advantages of this method of Service of Process in China are that:
- You know your Defendant has received the legal papers;
- The procedure is quick, with most serves being completed within 2 – 4 days; and
- You save money
Using this method, HKPS has completed serves in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong, and Hangzhou. Most of our China serves have been in Guangdong province.
What do you need to effect Service of Process in China?
As with all serves, we need the name and address of the party to be served. This applies to both companies and individuals.
If the receiving party is an individual, then a photograph of them is certainly a great help. Any form of identity document can also be of help. Finally, we require the papers that are to be served! If you need original documents to be served, please allow a couple of extra days for you to send the papers to us.
Who conducts HKPS China Serves?
HKPS has a team of trained and experienced process servers, with most of them speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin. We have found that the most reliable way of getting our serves completed in China is to use one of our own servers.
We have one investigator/ server that lives in Shenzhen. She is completely fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese. By flying from Shenzhen, she served documents in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing in one day, and made it back to Shenzhen by midnight. All three serves were for the same client and all concerned the same matter.
Whilst this might sound expensive, it is a reliable method that works, and we are not having to rely on unknown and untested individuals. Please note that disbursements are charged at cost.
How long do your China serves take?
If they are in Guangdong province (adjacent to Hong Kong) and are on the main road or rail systems, we aim to complete the serve within 24 – 72 hours. However, if a flight is required, particularly to the far north of China, then obviously more time will be required.
Most serves we undertake in Hong Kong or Macau are completed within a day of receiving the documents.