Navigating the Legal Process for Resolving Non-Delivery Disputes with Chinese Suppliers


Engaging in international trade can sometimes lead to supplier and buyer disputes. One common form of dispute is non-delivery – when the supplier fails to fulfill the order as per the agreed contract. 

Resolving such disputes can be challenging, particularly when the supplier is based in a different country, like China, with its own unique set of rules and regulations. Here we will guide you through the legal process for resolving non-delivery disputes with Chinese suppliers.


Understanding the Contract

The first step in resolving any dispute is to understand the terms of your contract. Contracts with Chinese suppliers often include an arbitration clause, which dictates how disputes should be handled. Familiarize yourself with this clause and determine the agreed method of dispute resolution. This could be mediation, arbitration, or litigation.

If your contract does not include an arbitration clause, the case will likely be handled according to the Chinese legal system. In such cases, it’s crucial to understand the Chinese legal system and its rules regarding contract disputes.


Legal Proceedings in China

Chinese law is primarily based on written statutes, with the courts interpreting the laws. If you’re engaged in a non-delivery dispute, having a legal representative specialized in China is recommended to guide you through the process.

Chinese courts tend to favor mediation and settlement over litigation. This is due in part to the cultural preference for harmony and compromise. As such, they might encourage both parties to reach an agreement before the case goes to court.


Hiring a Chinese Lawyer

Hiring a Chinese lawyer is essential if your dispute can’t be resolved through mediation and needs to be taken to court. Non-Chinese lawyers are not allowed to represent clients in Chinese courts, so you’ll need a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in China.

Make sure to hire a lawyer with experience in international trade disputes. They should also understand your industry well and the specific product involved in the dispute.



If your contract includes an arbitration clause, the dispute will be resolved through arbitration. The clause should specify the arbitration institution, which might be the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) or another internationally recognized institution.

Arbitration proceedings are generally quicker and less expensive than litigation. The arbitrators are usually experts in international trade law and can provide a fair and unbiased judgment.

Remember, the arbitration decision is final and binding on both parties. There’s usually no appeal process, so presenting your case thoroughly and effectively is essential.



Navigating the legal process for resolving non-delivery disputes with Chinese suppliers can be complex, but understanding the contract, the Chinese legal system and the arbitration process can help you manage and possibly avoid these disputes. It’s essential to have legal representation, preferably someone experienced with the Chinese legal system.

Always remember that prevention is better than cure. Establish clear contracts, maintain open and regular communication with your supplier, and promptly address any issues that arise. By taking these proactive steps, you can help minimize the risk of non-delivery disputes in the first place.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I prevent non-delivery disputes with Chinese suppliers? Clear communication and well-written contracts are vital in preventing disputes. Make sure the contract specifies delivery dates, quality standards, and other essential terms. Regularly communicate with your supplier to ensure that they understand your requirements and expectations. It’s also a good idea to conduct due diligence before entering into a contract to verify the supplier’s reliability and track record.

2. Can I represent myself in a Chinese court or during arbitration proceedings? While you technically could represent yourself, it’s not recommended due to the complexities of Chinese law and language barriers. It’s generally advisable to hire a Chinese lawyer or legal representative who is experienced in international trade disputes and knowledgeable about the Chinese legal system.

3. What if the Chinese supplier refuses to participate in arbitration? If the arbitration clause is part of your contract, the supplier is legally bound to participate. If they refuse, the arbitration panel can still proceed with the arbitration and make a decision based on the available evidence. This decision is legally binding and can be enforced in China.

4. Can I appeal an arbitration decision? Typically, arbitration decisions are final and binding, and there’s no appeal process. However, in exceptional circumstances where there is evidence of corruption or severe misconduct by the arbitrators, it may be possible to challenge the decision in court.

5. How long does the dispute resolution process usually take in China? The time frame can vary depending on the dispute’s complexity and the resolution method. Mediation can often be the quickest option, potentially resolving the conflict in a matter of weeks. Arbitration generally takes several months, while litigation in Chinese courts can take a year or more.



Contact us if you need legal help in China, help with background investigation of Chinese companies, protecting patents, trademarks, and verification of contracts to the law in China, 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 companiesprotecting 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  or Milla Chen, at We look forward to hearing from you and helping your business succeed in China.