China Lawyers

Pretty much every week someone asks one of our China lawyers for an English translation of a Chinese law or cites one of our blog posts as an explanation for a decision they made or are contemplating.

China’s laws are too precise/too vague/too changing/too real world/too dependent on regulations to use English language translations of one or two laws for making final decisions. An English language translation can give you a good “feel” for a situation or a starting point for how to proceed, but the risk of that translation being very wrong or just wrong enough to cause you to make a big mistake is just too great for you to rely on it without more.

And every year or so we get a company that comes to us as a new client seeking our help in getting them out of some sort of trouble with the Chinese government for having violated some law due to a mediocre translation or one that simply did not include all of the laws and regulations on the subject. In figuring out how to legally proceed in China, even a good translation is usually not nearly enough because decisions on how to proceed might require interpretations of local regulations,  or even knowledge of local quirks.

Many times one of our China-based lawyers (or even one of our China lawyers in the US) will get on the phone and call a Chinese government official (or two or three ) to get their views on how the relevant government body interprets/enforces particular laws/regulations and/or treats particular situations. Chinese government officials are usually willing to talk these things out and they are often surprisingly helpful, even if they do not always provide the expected or desired answer. These calls are always done without the need for mentioning any company names.

So what do our China attorneys tell those who ask for English language translations of Chinese laws?  We send them the following form email:

I am sorry but because we do not work from translations of Chinese laws (we find them too risky and unreliable) I do not know where you can find translations of the particular laws you seek nor am I aware of the best site or sites for such translations generally. I wish you the best of luck in your search.

What have you found out there?

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Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network. 

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.