Understanding the role of a China company legal representative and finding out who holds the position in the business you are working with can be very important when dealing with Chinese companies.
This article will tell you how to find out the name of a Chinese company's legal representative, but before we get to that it is important to be clear on what exactly a China company legal representative does and is responsible for.
What is a China Company Legal Representative?
Upon seeing a name listed under ‘legal representative’ on a Chinese business license (or China Checkup verification report), many people assume that this is the most important person at the company, for example the CEO.
This is often not the case, however. The China company legal representative can feasibly be anyone from the company. They have been chosen to have their name put on the business license and have agreed to this arrangement.
The reasons for this selection may include:
- It is someone who is obedient and loyal to the company who will not cause any problems by being legal representative.
- It is someone who seems stable for the long term and unlikely to leave.
- It is someone who can be trusted to be given the responsibility of legal representative without causing problems.
- It is a lawyer from the company.
…and so on.
In any case, there’s a good chance that this person won’t be someone with much real authority in the management of the company.
Whilst the legal representative does in theory have a lot of legal power, it boils down to this summary from China Law Blog (our emphasis):
The only meaning is that this person has the power to bind the company in contracts and this person also represents the company in submitting reports to regulators.
Because of this, it could be a mistake to demand contact with the legal representative or to require their participation in your communications with the company.
In many cases this person’s role as legal representative is not immediately relevant to the management of the company and it’s perfectly legitimate that they do not participate directly in your business relationship.
How to Find the Name of the China Company Legal Representative
With that important explanation out of the way, we’ll describe how to find out the name of the legal representative of a Chinese company.
The simplest and most direct way is to request a copy of the business license of the company. They should be totally willing to provide this if they are a legitimate company with nothing to hide.
The China company legal representative is listed beside the text “法定代表人" on the business license, which is the third row down on the right hand side of the certificate below:
If you don’t have access to a Chinese company’s business license or want to confirm the information you’ve been shown (i.e. hasn't been faked) , you can look up the company’s public registration record online.
To do this, you need to identify which province the company was registered in and visit the AIC (Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau) website for that province.
China Checkup can simplify and expand on this process for you. Our company verification reports include retrieval, translation and explanation of a company’s public registration record, plus other information that you will find useful in assessing them. We have different report options to cover your needs and budget.