Navigating Civil Lawsuits Procedures in China

After the initial contact, our overseas clients are often satisfied with our legal services and inquire, “I wanted to hire you as our lawyer, what is the procedure?” Hence, we categorize these common questions and provide guidance for all of you.

Once the client accepts our offer and decides to hire us, the first step is to sign an official engagement agreement. We will document what we agreed upon during the negotiation period, such as the engagement purpose, service plan, lawyer fees, and confidentiality, etc. Usually, the client is required to sign and send the documents to us by courier. Considering the long distance and cost-effectiveness, we also accept signatures via scan.

The second step: After the agreement is signed, and payment is received, we will communicate with the client to gain a comprehensive understanding of the case. We’ll start collecting and organizing the relevant evidence and forming our litigation strategy. This could involve several rounds, including conference calls with the client, reviewing as many documents as possible, discovering certain documents that are sometimes overlooked by the client, and supporting our claims in the end.

The third step: Once the strategy is finalized, we will draft a whole set of documents, including at least:

– Complaint

– Power of Attorney

– Director Resolution on litigation and appointment of a legal representative in China

Additionally, if the plaintiff is a company, a certificate of good standing and the passport page of the litigation representative (usually the managing director of the company) are required.

Although, according to the rules and regulations in China, there is no mandatory requirement to notarize and legalize the evidence except for matters related to personal identity, for critical evidence that plays a significant role in determining if the case will win or lose, we suggest notarizing and legalizing as well.

The fourth step: These above-mentioned documents used to be required to be certified by a local public notary and legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese consular. As China joined the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, the procedure will be easier for public documents. For the certificate of good standing, adding an apostille sticker will be enough after notarization between member countries in the Convention.

When legalized documents are received in China, we will come to the final step start translating all the documents into Chinese and officially file the case in court. There are four levels of the Chinese court system, but generally, a case undergoes trial in two different levels of courts. This means that if either party is not satisfied with the judgment, they can appeal to the higher court to try the case for a second time. The judgment from the second instance court is final and binding.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We are happy to assist.

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