Commercial disputes are common place world wide. Be it unpaid invoices, product quality problems or outright fraud. Anyone doing business has to stay alert of potential financial losses due to such uncertainties. While some problems can be avoided or minimized through timely research of information on the partners you are doing business with, others occur regardless of any precautions that might have been taken. Often such cases happen when the amounts of money involved are not very high and the cost of going to court would be higher than the amount claimed. The German Chambers of Industry and Commerce and their world wide network traditionally have an important role to play when it comes to such cases where an out of court settlement is the only viable dispute resolution mechanism. In such cases we often co-operate with local institutions such as the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre or the Hong Kong Mediation Centre. Especially in the field of arbitration Hong Kong is a leading centre in the region, since any title obtained here can be enforced through a court on the Mainland of China. The legal system in China is very different from Hong Kong’s common law jurisdiction. Since legal action tends to be both lengthy and expensive we offer our services as a neutral mediator to save our members and customers time and money. Furthermore, we recommend arbitration clauses to be included in commercial contracts.
If the mediation process fails, depending on the particulars of each case, we normally suggest our clients to initiate a debt collection process. Our service includes the selection and coordination with a reputable local service provider. Debt collection often proves a very effective means to reclaim funds from unpaid invoices and the service fees are comparatively cost effective.
A variety of business intelligence and research reports can be made through our office. GIC offers basic company searches and the more elaborate company credit reports for Hong Kong and China. The company search is fast to obtain, cheap and provides basic company data such as the registered address, incorporation date, names of shareholders and directors and court filings (if any). The credit reports include the company search and in addition give a more extensive profile which includes information on the personal assets of the shareholders, commercial activities of the company and bank references. The credit report also provides a rating by the service company, which helps to assess the risk of doing business with the company. These reports are useful tools to reduce the risk of doing business with a company, but of course they cannot eliminate the risk.
There is no simple recipe to avoid disputes with business partners in international trade. The best advice we can give to the contracting parties is to execute all possible measures of due diligence and to apply common sense and caution. If there is any doubt seek advice prior to engaging in any transaction.