It’s not unusual for a US company to be involved in litigation with non-US based trade partners. Increasingly, it’s also more common for individuals to be involved in multinational cases for family law matters including divorces and child custody. In a domestic case with a US Court, a Summons is served, the other party is notified of the litigation, and the case proceeds. This is true of any type of litigation in the United States.
The rules change when the defendant is in a foreign country, and where US law doesn’t apply.
If your other party is in China, regardless of whether it’s a business or an individual they must be served using the Hague Convention process. Process serving is a completely different ballgame in this country.
When serving legal documents in China – the foreign authorities will follow the local rules and regulations set out by China. If you’re planning to have service on a party, whether an individual or an entity in China, the rules are very specific, and you must follow them exactly.
I. The Hague Convention
China is a country that is under The Hague Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters. In order to serve a party there, your request for service must be done by the Hague Convention Treaty.
All English documents must be translated into Simplified Chinese (Mandarin). Without legal translation, the Central Authority will reject your request. The translation is required under China’s declaration to Article 5(3).
It’s a good idea to hire a private investigator to locate the correct address for service. This is extremely important—if the address isn’t correct, your request can be rejected by the Central Authority, local authorities, or anyone else involved with the service.
You’ll also need to fill out a US Marshall’s Service Form 94, (USM-94) also called a Hague Service Request. This is the form for an Article 5 request under the Hague Convention. Although it comes in English and French, if you’re serving a party in China, you will need to translate this Form as well.
II. The Central Authority
This is the country’s office that is designated to receive and process the paperwork for your request for service. They are also responsible for deciding whether to send your information to the Chinese Supreme Court.
Your paperwork must contain:
• A filled out USM-94
• The original English version of documents to be served on the party, with the court’s seal on the summons
• All documents translated into Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)
• Photocopies of these documents
The Chinese Central Authority’s address is:
Ministry of Justice of China
International Legal Cooperation Center
No.33 PingAnLi XiDaJie
Xicheng District, Beijing, 100035
People’s Republic of China
Once the Chinese Supreme Court receives the paperwork, they will assign a case number and submit it for review by a judge. The judge reviews your request and then decides whether or not to order service.
After service has been made, the affidavit will be returned to the U.S. If you hire Judicial Process and Support to take care of your international service to China, it will be returned to us. At that point, we will hand it over to the attorney handling the case here in the U.S. The attorney will request a legal translation from our offices, and then submit it to the U.S. Court for filing in the Court’s docket.
III. Paying For Your Service
Although the Convention prohibits charging a fee, the US government charges $95. The Chinese government requires a fee of $95 “reciprocal fee” for the execution of service requests from the U.S. in order to process your service.
This fee must be sent to Beijing by wire transfer to the Central Authority. They will accept funds in no other fashion. If you don’t, your service will not happen, and your documents will likely be returned to you.
Your wire confirmation must also be submitted with your Hague request. A bank draft is no longer accepted.
IV. Hurry Up And Wait
One of the biggest components of process service to China is that you must have patience—quite a bit of it, in fact.
While Judicial Process and Support works hard to provide fast, efficient service, the Chinese government does not. It may be as long as 6 months or more before you receive your proof of service from the Chinese government.
V. Are There Any Alternatives?
Unfortunately, the answer is no–there aren’t. China objects to any other method of process service, including in-person and by mail. Any attempt to go around their prescribed method of requesting service will be denied.
By Legal Pros. For Legal Pros.
Need to serve someone in China, in another city, or right in your city? Judicial Process and Support is ready to help no matter where you need service of process.
We’ve worked with small, medium and large law firms and other clients, offering five-star service in international service of process and translation into over 100 languages. Although we’re based in Miami, we work with clients worldwide to ensure that your service of process is completed in accordance with the State or Country’s requirements.
Service of process is important, especially with overseas parties, so don’t take chances. Make sure that your service is completed the right way, no matter where it is. You can call us today at 1-800-852-5002, or email us at Global@JudicialSupport.com.
We’re happy to answer all your questions and get you the services you need quickly.
Take a look at this successful Chinese Service of Process we have on our YouTube Channel.