Service of Process in China: Solutions Not Problems

Hague Convention services in China are known to be problematic. We have worked with international clients over the years to develop a method of delivering legal documents. The affidavit is sworn in English in Hong Kong. Our service of process in China is effective and is received positively by worldwide clients.
Guangzhou street nearby where HKPS has conducted service of process in Chinaa

Are you struggling with service of process in China?

Service of process in China can be fraught with difficulties.  China’s reluctance to allow informal serves further complicates the situation.  HKPS has conducted dozens of serves in China and none has been disputed to our knowledge.

China and the Hague Service Convention: the facts

China is a party, or signatory, to the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, usually referred to as the Hague Convention on Process Serve.  China has opposed the service of documents in China under any of the Section 10 alternatives.  This means that for your serve to be wholly compliant with the Hague Convention, it must go through the Chinese Central Authority.    

Another Chinese requirement is that the entire document, and any attachments, must be formally translated, using correct Chinese nomenclature, official names and titles, the correct name for any country or territory, such as Hong Kong – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.  Be extremely careful with any references to Taiwan!  Chinese authorities will simply reject any documents that contain errors in translation or nomenclature.  Getting a large legal document formally translated can be a very time-consuming business – and extremely expensive at the same time.

How long to complete a Hague Service of Process in China?

Chinese action under the Hague Convention is notoriously slow, with it sometimes taking as long as two years for an applicant to receive notification of service having been effected.  The actual 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. 

Once the documents have been served, the server returns to Hong Kong where he then makes an affidavit, witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths, (or solicitor or Notary Public) describing his actions in China.  This affidavit is then forwarded to the client together with a comprehensive report on how the service was effected and usually containing relevant photos of what happened.

The advantages of this method of Service of Process in China are that:

  • you know your Defendant has received the legal papers;
  • it is quick, with most serves being completed within 2 – 4 days; and
  • it is cost-effective

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 original documents are to be served, please allow a couple of extra days for the papers to reach 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.

Christopher Wilson

About HKPS

HKPS was co-founded in 2014 by an ex-Hong Kong police officer to provide efficient and cost-effective process serves in Hong Kong, China, Macau and other parts of SE Asia.  

HKPS is a brand of the Veriton Asia Group.  Veriton offers a range of research and investigations services from full reputational due diligence and surveillance to China company checks and executive screening. 

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