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Do Foreign Judgments Need to Be Served to Litigants in China?| Service of Process and Foreign Judgment Enforcement Series (3)-CTD 101 Series

Fri, 07 Apr 2023
Contributors: Meng Yu 余萌
Editor: C. J. Observer

Yes. Just like foreign court summons, foreign judgments also need to be served to litigants in China.

This post was first published in CJO GLOBAL, which is committed to providing consulting services in China-related cross-border trade risk management and debt collection. We will explain how debt collection works in China below.

Proper service of process is vital for foreign judgment enforcement in China. In this context, it is both court summons and court judgments that require proper service to litigants in China.

Some litigants may overlook the importance of proper service of judgments. Some may even confuse the service of court summons with that of court judgments, leading to a false perception that all the job is done once a court summons is served properly.

Improper service of judgments would be a substantial obstacle to applications of enforcing foreign judgments in China. In the view of Chinese courts, when a foreign judgment is not properly served upon the litigant in China, its appeal rights were not reasonably guaranteed, which would constitute a dismissal or refusal ground for judgment enforcement under Chinese laws.

An example can be found in a reply from China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) for the case Hukla-Werke GmbH Matratzenund Polstermoebel v., Beijing Fukela Furniture Selling Co., Ltd.[1], where the judgment creditor applied for enforcement of a German court judgment. Both Germany and China are member states of the Hague Service Convention, and in that German court proceeding, the summons and complaints were served by Foreign Central Authority under Hague Service Convention, but the judgment was served by mail. In this reply, the SPC indicated that the service of judgment by mail is not accepted by China, which renders the judgment ineffective for the defendant – a dismissal ground for enforcing foreign judgments.

Another example is the case LaSARLK.C.C v. Chenzhou Hualu Digital Technology Co., Ltd.[2], where the judgment creditor applied for enforcement of a French court judgment. The local court in Hunan Province ruled to refuse to enforce the French judgment because the foreign judgment was not properly served on the Chinese defendant (as the court did not find any record of serving judgment in the Ministry of Justice), which deprived the defendant of the right to appeal, endangering the public policy – a refusal ground for enforcing foreign judgments.

[1] Hukla-Werke GmbH Matratzen- und Polstermoebel v., Beijing Fukela Furniture Selling Co., Ltd., (2010)Min Si Ta Zi No.81(Reply of China’s Supreme People’s Court, Dec. 23, 2010).

[2] LaSARLK.C.C v. Chenzhou Hualu Digital Technology Co., Ltd., (2016) Xiang 10 Xie Wai Ren No. 10 (Chenzhou Intermediate People’s Court, June 20, 2017).



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Photo by shark ovski on Unsplash

Contributors: Meng Yu 余萌

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