In recent years, the Chinese Central Authority has been a model of inefficiency.
The turnaround time for service of process in China pursuant to the Hague Service Convention was approximately 2 years and, on occasion, took as long as 3-4 years.
At the same time, the time to execute a Letter of Request to take evidence in China pursuant to the Hague Evidence Convention, took 6-12 months — if the Chinese Central Authority executed the request at all. (Many requests to take evidence in China are not executed and China provides little in the way of explanation as to why.)
Accordingly, to reduce this time, Legal Language Services has recommended filing for a default judgment under Article 15 of the Hague Service Convention. The Chinese Central Authority, meanwhile, has not been unaware of the problems and, during 2019 and 2020, it took steps to improve its service.
Throughout 2019 — and especially during the fourth quarter — into 2020 LLS noted that the Chinese Central Authority’s level of service has been substantially improving in the following ways:
When service could not be effected because the address was bad, as part of the Hague Certificate of Non-Service, the Chinese Central Authority sometimes included a photograph of the empty and vacated premises. No other Central Authority provides such documentation.
Furthermore, after discovering the address listed for a defendant to be bad, the Chinese Central Authority — occasionally and on its own initiative — performed address research and then served the defendant at a new address. While some Central Authorities will sometimes do this, the Chinese Central Authority, of late, has been doing so more frequently.
The Chinese Central Authority has computerized its process. Documents can now be submitted via the Central Authority’s webpage. This new computerized request process holds the potential to result in reduced shipping fees and improved tracking.
Additionally, while we are still receiving notices of completion of service requested before 2018, many requests for service initiated in 2019 and 2020 were completed in 2019 and 2020. That is to say, while there is still a backlog of requests made prior to 2019, the Chinese Central Authority’s computerization and innovations appear to have requests for service made in 2019 and 2020 moving through the system at a pace comparable to other Central Authorities.
While it is still too earlier to expect service in China to be completed in under a year, if this trend continues, there will likely be a much smaller need for Article 15 default judgements in the future.
Execution of Letters for Request
LLS assisted one client with a Letter for Request to take documents from a third-party witness in China. The Chinese Central Authority had this Letter of Request executed within 3 months of its arrival in China.
Recognition of Foreign Judgments
Throughout 2020, China has increasingly recognized foreign judgments — including Article 15 default judgments.
Some things to keep in mind if you have a judgment against a Chinese defendant:
- Like Japan, competent attorneys are scarce, so Chinese attorneys (like their Japanese counter parts) are compensated based on the value of the case. Thus in China, the attorneys’ fees for an enforcement action, on average, comes to about 8% of the judgment’s value.
- The court cost to enforce a foreign judgment, on average, comes to about 2% of the amount in controversy.
- Like the US, enforcement of a foreign judgment is a two-step process: recognition (averaging about one year) and the actual enforcement (averaging about 0.75 years).
- Any US judicial document that is submitted to a court in China must be translated and legalized.
How LLS Can Help
LLS applauds the Chinese Central Authority’s efforts to improve the quality of its judicial assistance. Since 2019 and into 2020, we have seen numerous improvements in the time it takes to effect service and execute Letters for Request as well as an increase in the recognition of foreign judgments, including Article 15 default judgments.
If you require assistance serving process in China, (or any other country), contact the professionals at LLS today. With more than 35 years of experience, we are the US’s premier source of international litigation support. What’s more, we also offer professional translation services for any documents which require translation before service.
Call us today at 1-800-755-5775 or simply fill out our free quote form.
Meng Yu & Guodong Du: China Striving to Improve the Efficiency of Judicial Assistance. China Justice Observer. 30 June 2019. https://www.chinajusticeobserver.com/a/china-striving-to-improve-the-efficiency-of-judicial-assistance.