After extensive study and consultation with relevant authorities, No. 4 Civil Court of the Supreme People’s Court released on 13 December 2007 ‘several provisions concerning the serving of judicial documents in respect of Hong Kong and Macau civil and commercial cases (draft for comments)’ for public consultation. The draft provides more clarity on serving judicial documents in civil or commercial cases involving Hong Kong or Macau. Key draft provisions are as follows:

  1. The provisions apply to cases involving Hong Kong and Macau in which recipients of judicial documents do not have a domicile in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  1. A people’s court may serve on:
    • any natural person, a body corporate or organisation’s legal representative or chief representative who is based in the PRC;
    • the recipient’s authorised representative;
    • the recipient’s representative office; or
    • a branch established in the PRC or any of the recipient’s authorised business agents based in the PRC.
  1. A people’s court may serve judicial documents in one or a combination of the following modes:
    • through the High Court of Hong Kong or the Court of Final Appeal of Macau in accordance with the rules on the arrangement for reciprocal service of judicial documents between the PRC and Hong Kong and Macau;
    • by post. If there is no acknowledgment of service but one of the conditions of deemed service (as defined below) is met, it will be treated as duly served on the day three months following the date of sending;
    • by announcement. The announcement should be published in the PRC and in publicly available press publications overseas. The judicial document is deemed to be duly served on the recipient on the day three months following the date of such public announcement;
    • by fax, email or other modes that the court considers appropriate. Apart from service by announcement, a people’s court may concurrently use other modes of service. The earliest date of receipt of the judicial documents sent by any of the concurrent modes of service will be the deemed date of service; or
    • by leaving the judicial document with a legal or business representative, authorised attorney, agent, branch or representative office.
  1. Where there is no acknowledgment of service, the document will be deemed to be duly served if one of the following occurs:
    • the recipient mentions or refers to the contents of the judicial document in the people’s court;
    • the recipient has performed in accordance with the contents of the judicial document; or
    • any other evidence or circumstances by which it can be considered that the document has been duly served.