外国企业进行涉外诉讼的策略和程序的初步分析(一)
发布日期:2017-3-20   浏览次数:222

The People’s Court: A Litigation Primer

for Managers and Entrepreneurs

 

本文由牟晋军律师团队涉外高级法律顾问Samuel Speed和涉外法律顾问梁欣然撰写,是对涉外贸易领域纠纷中一般诉讼策略和程序进行的分析,对在中国从事贸易又不熟悉中国法律规定的境外公司,或许有初步了解的帮助。

 

Suppose China Co., a Chinese business, sold you some high performance wooden blocks that turned out to defective. China Co. then refused to fix them and now you are stuck with a pile of blocks you can’t use or sell. On top of that, China Co. wont refund your money either and has stopped taking your calls.

 

假设一家中国公司向你销售了一些高性能木板,这些木板却被发现具有瑕疵。该中国公司拒绝修复这些瑕疵,而你则受困于一堆无法使用或销售的木板。接着,该中国公司拒绝退款,也拒接你的电话。

 

At this point, you have a choice. You can take the loss or you can take China Co. to the People’s Court. While it might make sense to continue to contact China Co. and try to resolve the situation yourself, you might also be giving China Co. time to get rid of evidence or to shift assets out of the way.  

 

在这个时候,你有什么办法?你只能自甘接受损失,或者将这家公司诉至法院。当然你可以继续跟这家公司沟通,看有没有办法自行解决问题,但与此同时,你却也可能为这家公司争取到了销毁证据或转移资产的准备时间。

 

If you decide to go to court, there are a few things you need to do.

 

如果你决定了要走诉讼这条道路,还是有一些事情需要注意的。

 

First, it helps to know who China Co. is. If it is a registered business in China and has plenty of assets to pay you but just won’t, then you have some options. Believe it or not, finding out this information isn’t necessarily that hard. (And it’s something you should probably do before making major purchases for your business.)

首先,你需要了解该中国公司的性质。如果它是在中国注册的公司,拥有足以偿还你的资产,但只是不愿意这么做而已,你就有几个选择。不管你相不相信:找到这些信息并没有那么困难。(而且这也是你的公司与它进行大宗贸易前应该先做的。)

 

流程图: 可选过程: Front loaded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next thing you should do is gather evidence. In the People’s Court, evidence is almost always provided to the court in documents. For that reason, preparing the case – collecting evidence, researching the law, writing the petition – are the most important parts of the case. That’s what the court is going to base its decision on. For that reason, you should be talking to a lawyer at this point. Evidence collection in China is very technical and there are many ways to do it wrong and only one way to do it right.

 

接下来需要做的事情就是搜集证据。中国的法院中,证据大部分都要通过文件的形式提供给法院。因此,准备案件,收集证据,检索法律,撰写起诉状——是诉讼中最重要的一些部分。这是法院将据以裁判的依据。因此,这就是你跟律师沟通的时候。在中国,收集证据是个技术活。把事情做错有千百种方法,而把事情做对只有一种方法。

 

Once your case is ready, you can then send out a lawyer’s letter to the other side. This gives China Co. another chance to talk about settlement. If China Co. has substantial assets and you have a good case, they are going to want to settle. Why?

 

Two reasons.

 

当你准备要起诉了,你就可以发送对方一封律师函。这封律师函会给该中国公司一次和平商讨解决方法的机会。假如该公司拥有大量资产,并且你有充分依据,它会愿意和解的。为什么?

 

有两个原因:

 

1)      China Co.’s assets can be frozen until the dispute is resolved in certain cases. This includes bank accounts. It’s very difficult to make payroll, pay suppliers, etc., if you can’t access your cash.

 

      一,该中国公司的资产可被冻结直至争议得到解决。资产包括银行的账户。一旦无法得到充裕的现金,公司将难以支付员工工资或支付货款,等等。

 

2)      We’ll say it again, People’s Court cases are front loaded. Unless China Co. has some incredible evidence that’s going to completely win the case, then they know they are going to lose and in doing so probably have to pay your attorney’s fees and court costs. On top of refunding your money if they lose the case, of course.

 

      二. 我们再次说明,中国法院的案件是预付性的。除非该中国公司掌握一些可以完全赢得案件的证据,他们知道他们会输掉官司,要作为败诉方支付你的律师费和诉讼费。不仅如此,他们当然还需要向你退还货款。

 

Although not every defendant responds to a lawyer’s letter with an offer to settle, a carefully prepared case and a correctly worded lawyer’s letter is oftentimes enough.

 

尽管并不是每一个被告都会回应律师函并给出和解的方案,但周密地准备案件内容和一份措辞得当的律师函,通常情况下已经足够了。

 

But suppose China Co. doesn’t care and it still wants to litigate despite the litigation risk and frozen assets. This happens and will always happen here in China, and in the US and in Europe. Some people are just like that.

 

但是,假设该中国公司不当回事,不顾诉讼风险也不怕冻结资产,宁可跟你法庭上见。这通常也会发生,而且在中国、美国、欧洲总是发生。有些人可能就是喜欢这样。

 

The next stage is filing the case along with the litigation fee. By court rule, this fee is a percentage of the amount demanded of China Co. If you win, China Co. has to reimburse you for that fee.

 

下一步就是向法院提起诉讼并且支付诉讼费了。通过法院的规则,该费用是你向该中国公司所要求数额的百分之一。如果你赢得了诉讼,该中国公司则会偿还你该笔费用。

 

After the case is filed, the court has seven days to decide if it’s going to accept the case or not.

 

当案件起诉之后,法院会在七日内决定其是否受理。

 

In the past, the People’s Court was notorious for not accepting or rejecting cases. If the case was controversial or involved a locally prominent business as a defendant, the court would sometimes just sit on the case and never make a decision. That’s not allowed anymore. The rules were changed when the Civil Procedure Law was revised in 2012. While the court doesn’t have to accept every case, it does have to reject any case they aren’t going to take and explain their reasons for doing so in writing. And the new rules make it very hard to reject a case.

 

在过去,中国的法院因为不予立案而不受待见。假如这个案件是有争议的或者被告涉及到了一个当地有名望的公司,法院有时会坐视不理,或者一直不作出裁决。这种情况现在已经不允许再发生了。根据2012年最新修订的《民事诉讼法》,法院不必受理每个案件,但对于每个不予受理的案件,都必须书面解释不予受理的理由。因为这个规定,不予受理变得十分困难。

 

流程图: 可选过程: The process of litigation in PRC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the case is accepted, the court will ask the parties to try to settle. This is standard for any court anywhere but it does give you another chance to get to settlement. Things change once the case is filed and the defendant is now very publicly being accused of wrong doing. For most Chinese businesses, they will seek a quick exit if they can. By filing the case, you may have called their bluff and now they want out.

 

受理案件后,法院会询问双方当事人是否愿意和解。这对于任何地地方的法院都是标准做法,但是这也给了你另一个机会进行和解。一旦案件起诉了,就意味着昭告了被告被控不当行为。对于大部分的中国企业而言,都会想办法尽快全身而退。通过起诉,你也许可以让他们摊牌,因为他们这时不想继续诉下去了。

 

But suppose China Co. isn’t ready to give up yet.

 

但是,再假设这家中国公司依旧不肯放弃。

 

In that case, the next stage is argument. The Court has your evidence in a neat stack of papers along with China Co.’s evidence and responses. That’s all the evidence that’s going to be presented.

 

在这种情况下,下一步就是辩论了。法庭已经有了一堆双方的证据以及对方的答辩。这些就是所有即将呈现的证据了。(后续内容请见下一篇文章)

 

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