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Q: If only an English language version of a work contract is signed, then is it enforceable in China?

Hey guys, I have searched online regarding this and have come across two related (although not specific) answers:

 

i) If both an English version and Chinese version of the contract is signed, then the Chinese version of the contract will hold precedence in Chinese law

 

ii)If the contract explicitly states that one version of the contract (either the English language one or the Chinese language one) controls or specifically takes precedence over the other, then it will

 

I'm quite skeptical of the second point, and still haven't managed to find an answer concerning my specific situation. Any thoughts? Also, does it matter whether one of the parties (for example, the employee) is a non-Chinese, foreigner?

2 weeks 1 day ago in  Business & Jobs - China

 
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Common folk

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There is a reason it is called a contract. It is meant to be signed and agree up by BOTH parties. So, I always strongly advise you to add closes that protect you.

 

Other comments answers you questions, English contracts are not enforceable in China, and even if they were, why would I want to sign a contract in any language other than the country's official language? Even if it was enforceable, you have to think about the procedure length that it will take to translate, prove, pass an english contract on a court law.

 

What I suggest, is to add a close in the Chinese contract stating 1. The employee shall receive an English version exactly identical to the Chinese version and sign both of them. 2. Any change in the Chinese contract is void unless the employee receive a new English copy with the stated changes and approve it. 3.  if due to circumstances, the employers want to change terms of the contract, he should inform the employee at least 4 weeks in advance and prepare an English version with the same changes. 4. Any change in the contract without the respect of the procedure 1, 2 , 3 shall result in a fine between 2500 - 5000 USD paid by the employer to the employee.

 

Law doesn't protect fools, it is a well know quote

 

I would also add reference numbers to both the english and chinese version of a contract and mention them in the contract for more clarity.

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1 week 3 days ago
 
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It's the Chinese version that is enforceable. I have our contracts bilingual but only so I can read them...

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
Posts: 238

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A precedent of distrust

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
Posts: 4032

Emperor

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No, It can't. There must be Chinese or Chinese and English in the contract.

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
Posts: 359

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Both Chinese and English versions of a contract should be exactly the same, but it is always worth checking before you sign.

also, some Chinese employers won't even stick to the Chinese contract.

 

i'd get someone to check before you sign.

if there is a problem about getting both versions to check independently, just say something like

'i always read through everything thoroughly before i sign'

 

good luck

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
Posts: 80

Minor Official

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There have been rather recent changes in contracts in China. Now, it seems, languages other than Chinese may be considered valid in Chinese courts. However, it's highly recommended to have legal documents in Chinese for ease in litigation. http://www.chinalawblog.com/?s=English+contract+valid%3F

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
Posts: 890

Governor

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Not in any case whatsoever. Only Chinese documents are liable in courts, which is why Foreign companies have to get everything translated. I mean it makes sense, you are in China after all.

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2 weeks 1 day ago
 
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In the real world... the local language (of officialdom) would 'take precedence' in the local law courts (after all, can't expect legal officials to be competent in X number of languages - or even be asked to fully understand one other language, for a small handful of cases (if any!)- and any relevant and significant differences in translation may be an attempt to defraud.

 

There is also the concept of 'due diligence' which would put the emphasis on correct translation onto the person signing the translated copy as being a true and correct version of the original. For this to be legitimate, it should go through an official translator - which can be expensive..So, the onus is on the person signing it - not the entity preferring the contract.

 

I don't think China has legal protections for things like 'in good faith'....

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1 week 6 days ago
 
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Under what is known as Title XII, Article 37, Section 4(a) and alinea of the Code of the People's Republic of China, any written contract that is subject to the interpretation and jurisdiction of the courts of the People's Republic of China must be written in Chinese in order to be enforceable and to be challengeable.  An English language contract cannot be submitted for arbitration nor for legal referral and holds no legal standing.  

A previous poster referred to changes in the Chinese legal system in terms of contract language but these are limited, for example, to the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, where legal undertakings may be written in Mongolian and legally challenged in Mongolian, to Macao, where legal undertakings may be written in Portuguese or in Chinese, or in Hong Kong where legal agreements may be in either English or Chinese. Of the two contracts in Hong Kong and in Macao and in the MAR, it is the Chinese version that legally takes precedence in light of what I have previous written.

Contracts in English are for the mere convenience of the non Chinese person who will be a signatory to that contract.  In terms of all the above, there has been no movement away from Title  XII, Article 37 clause at all.  Given the colonialist past of China, it will never happen.

For example, in the United Kingdom, is a contract written in Polish between two UK residents contestable in a British court of law without an English language equivalent?  Hardly.

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1 week 6 days ago
 
Posts: 24

Common folk

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There is a reason it is called a contract. It is meant to be signed and agree up by BOTH parties. So, I always strongly advise you to add closes that protect you.

 

Other comments answers you questions, English contracts are not enforceable in China, and even if they were, why would I want to sign a contract in any language other than the country's official language? Even if it was enforceable, you have to think about the procedure length that it will take to translate, prove, pass an english contract on a court law.

 

What I suggest, is to add a close in the Chinese contract stating 1. The employee shall receive an English version exactly identical to the Chinese version and sign both of them. 2. Any change in the Chinese contract is void unless the employee receive a new English copy with the stated changes and approve it. 3.  if due to circumstances, the employers want to change terms of the contract, he should inform the employee at least 4 weeks in advance and prepare an English version with the same changes. 4. Any change in the contract without the respect of the procedure 1, 2 , 3 shall result in a fine between 2500 - 5000 USD paid by the employer to the employee.

 

Law doesn't protect fools, it is a well know quote

 

I would also add reference numbers to both the english and chinese version of a contract and mention them in the contract for more clarity.

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1 week 3 days ago
 
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