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As in any other jurisdiction, litigation in the PRC requires filing a lawsuit. The country’s civil court system consists of:

  • High Court;
  • specialized courts;
  • local courts.

There are also specialized courts that are entrusted with settling disputes in the PRC.

Jurors & Judges

Resolving civil disputes in the PRC is the prerogative of collegiums which are made up of professional arbitrators. Unlike in other countries, judges in the PRC play an exceedingly important role. Hence, they take an active part in the proceedings by questioning witnesses & parties. 

There’s no jury as such; however, there's people's juries that are responsible for establishing facts in court. It’s composed of individuals that have no previous legal background & meet certain requirements for age & education.

Deadlines for Filing Civil Claims

Under recent amendments to the country’s legislation, a 3-year limitation period has been established for handling a civil claim. Other types of cases are handled within:

  • a 2-year period for liability-related claims;
  • a 4-year period for international disputes.

Pre-Trial Requirements

There’s no formal requirements on individuals seeking to file a civil lawsuit in the PRC. An exception is made for:

  • labor disputes (settling labor disputes in China requires submitting a claim to arbitration commissions before filing it with a court).
  • shareholder's claims for derivatives;

China: Initiating Legal Proceedings

After the transformation of China’s acceptance system, legal proceedings begin after a court registers a plaintiff's claim. If their claim is rejected, a plaintiff has the right to appeal a verdict within ten days.

Once a claim has been registered, a notice of acceptance is served upon a plaintiff, following which a defendant is sent a notification of a claim filed (usually within 5 days).

China: Procedure for Filing a Civil Claim 

Fling civil claims in the PRC involves:

  • registering a claim;
  • notifying a defendant;
  • presenting evidence;
  • filing a counterclaim;
  • starting a hearing;
  • making a decision.

Enforcing Judgements 

If after settling a dispute in the PRC a party declines to accept a verdict, the other party can pursue the matter to court. A 2-year deadline is envisaged for filing appeals for enforcing judgements.


The following remedies are used for settling commercial disputes in the PRC:

  • recompense for a loss;
  • permanent injunction;
  • specific action.

When it comes to civil proceedings, remedies usually involve compensations (except for punitive damages). 

Public Access

Those contemplating initiating litigation in China should keep in mind that hearings are open to the public (an exception is made for cases that involve confidentiality issues or state secrets).

Members of the public can also access litigation-related documentation. However, they aren’t allowed to have access to witnesses’ statements.

Class Action Suits

Inder Chinese legislation, initiating class action suits in the PRC is possible. This form of litigation is common for labor disputes.

Appealing Verdicts

Parties that don’t agree with a verdict can appeal it within a 15-day period. Decisions rendered by 2nd instance courts are final & take immediate effect. 

Judgments of Foreign Courts

When it comes to settling an international dispute, enforcing foreign courts’ judgements in China may not be that easy. Courts in the PRC may recognize judgements of foreign courts if:

  • China’s a signatory to a two-party international agreement;
  • China’s a signatory to multilateral conventions;
  • Chinese courts’ judgements were enforced in a country where a decision was rendered.

Filing a lawsuit in the PRC requires having an indepth understanding of the country’s legislation. It can take months or even years to get a sound grasp of all legal intricacies involved in preparing for a lawsuit in the PRC. Therefore, your best bet would be to entrust it to real professionals. IQ Decision UK can take the hassle out of all litigation-related preparations by providing you with professional advice on China’s judicial system.