How to Collect on a U.S. Judgment Against a Chinese Company

We have written many times of how Chinese courts do not enforce United States judgments. Because of this, U.S. judgments have pretty much no value in China and if your only collection plan is to sue in the United States and then take your U.S. judgment to China, you are making a big mistake.

We see this mistake all the time when U.S. lawyers call one of our international dispute resolution attorneys seeking help to collect on a U.S. judgment they have just secured for their clients. We tell them how their judgment has no value in China and then we wait for the long pause while the lawyer is presumably thinking of how to explain to their client why they charged it so much to get something that will likely be worth so little.

But note how I have NOT said that securing a United States judgment is always a waste of time and how I say merely that such a judgment “will likely be worth little.” A United States judgment against a Chinese company can lead to collection, but for that to occur, one must know about the operations of the Chinese company and be prepared to be legally creative in figuring out how and where to act in using the United States judgment to go after the Chinese company’s assets.

We are right now working on just such a case and since I just set out some of the options in an email, I figured I might as well post them here as well, especially since we are working so deep background on this that my posting cannot possibly tip off anyone:

Here are the methods we typically use to try to collect on US judgments against Chinese companies that do not have hard assets in the United States:

1. If the Chinese company has vessels, seize those. Not likely here, but I mention it because it can be so easy.

2. If there are U.S. or EU (and other countries also) companies that owe the Chinese company money, go after that money.

3. If there are US or EU (and other countries also) companies that will owe it money, go after that money.

4. Take the judgment to a country that will enforce U.S. judgments and seize the Chinese company’s assets there. South Korea is the best and most typical. Canada can be good too. There are others.

5. Take the judgment to Hong Kong and use it to get a summary judgment against the Chinese company there. This can be quite expensive and it only sometimes makes sense. There are other countries where this sometimes also makes sense.

6. Write a letter to the defendant, in Chinese, letting them know all of the problems you intend to inflict on it if it doesn’t pay. Those will include alerting various governmental bodies about this company’s conduct and doing whatever else you can do to make sure this company does not rip anyone off ever again. This can be quite effective, particularly with companies that are hoping to go public.

We would need to know more about the company and its operations to come up with additional options and to tell you more about the likelihood of success and the expected costs of each of the above.

There you have it. Using a United States judgment to collect from a Chinese company.

Difficult, but not impossible.