Navigating Bill of Lading Disputes with Chinese Companies

In the globalized world of trade and commerce, many trading companies have opted to place orders with Chinese companies, hoping to capitalize on China’s vast manufacturing capabilities and cost-effective solutions. However, with the rise of such international transactions, there has been an alarming uptick in incidents involving fraudulent Bills of Lading. Here’s a deep dive into the issue and the steps trading companies can take when caught in the crosshairs of such deceptive practices.


Understanding the Problem

When a trading company places an order with a Chinese counterpart, it’s standard practice to make a down payment to initiate the order. Once the goods are supposedly shipped, the trading company receives a Bill of Lading, upon receipt of which they complete the final payment. The Bill of Lading is a document issued by a carrier that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods. It also serves as a receipt of shipment for the goods and evidences the contract terms between the carrier and the shipper.

However, a rising concern in this system is the circulation of falsified Bills of Lading. These deceptive documents make it appear as though the goods have been shipped when, in reality, they haven’t. When trading companies realize the deception, they have often already made the full payment, resulting in significant financial losses.


Recourse for Recovery: Steps to Take

For trading companies that have fallen victim to such fraudulent activities, there are specific courses of action they can take:

1. Issue a Lawyer’s Letter:

Engaging a lawyer to send a formal letter to the Chinese company can be the first step in asserting your rights. This letter should clearly articulate the fraudulent behavior, demand a resolution, and threaten legal actions, both criminal and civil. This is more than just a written communication; it signals the trading company’s intent to take the matter seriously. Following the letter with phone calls can further pressure the Chinese company to make amends.


2. Litigate in the Chinese Maritime Court:

If the situation isn’t resolved with the letter and subsequent follow-ups, the next step is to initiate civil litigation in the Chinese Maritime Court. Given the specialized nature of maritime disputes, this court has the expertise to handle cases related to Bills of Lading. Trading companies would do well to engage legal counsel experienced in such matters to ensure the best possible outcome.


An Expert Hand: Navigating Maritime Disputes

While the steps mentioned above are fundamental actions a company should consider, it’s also crucial to remember that such disputes can be intricate, involving nuances of international law, maritime regulations, and business customs in China. As such, working with experts handling these cases can significantly increase the likelihood of recovering lost funds.

Our firm has been at the forefront of navigating such complexities, having represented numerous clients in the Chinese Maritime Court for Bill of Lading disputes. We have redressed many trading companies in similar predicaments through legal expertise, an understanding of the local landscape, and a relentless pursuit of justice.



Companies must be vigilant, informed, and prepared in the vast international trade arena. Falling prey to fraudulent practices can be both financially and reputationally damaging. However, by taking decisive action and seeking expert counsel, trading companies can navigate these choppy waters and safeguard their interests.



Contact us if you need legal help in China, like drafting contracts that follow Chinese law, background investigation of Chinese companies, protecting patents and trademarks in China and internationally, verifying contracts to the law in China, legal translation to and from Chinese, legal and trade disputes with Chinese companies, etc.

If you require our assistance or have further questions about our services, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Relationship Manager, Jan Erik Christensen, at We look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed in China.

Contact us if you need help with drafting of contracts that follows Chinese laws and are enforceable in China, background investigation of Chinese companies, protecting patents, trademarks, verification of contracts to the law in China, or help with other legal challenges that you have in China.

If you require our assistance or have further questions about our services, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Relationship Managers Jan Erik Christensen, at . We look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed in China.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional legal counsel. The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Reading this article does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and the author or the author’s organization. Our website aim to provide general information for educational and communication purposes.