Disputes in China’s Courier Industry


Despite a slowing economy, China’s express delivery industry grew steadily in 2015, while the year also saw courier services delivering to 70 percent of Chinese towns and villages, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Along with the rapid development of the express delivery industry, there are occurrences of lost or damaged deliveries from time to time, where the parties cannot reach an agreement on compensation. Therefore, lawsuits involving the express delivery industry are on the rise.

From the cases heard by the people’s courts, such cases have the following characteristics:

Cases with individual(s) as plaintiff account for more than 90 percent of all cases, and most are under the age of 50, which is directly related to popularity of online shopping among young people. Most defendants are less well-known small express delivery companies.

The claims are generally anchored in two aspects. In the first case, the senders make a claim against an express delivery company for deliveries missing, damaged or falsely claimed by a person other than the intended receiver during transportation, which is mainly due to poor management and services of the express delivery companies, such as unauthorized subcontracting, improper handling, and failure to verify the identity of the receiver. Such cases account for more than 80 percent of all cases in express delivery. In the second case, the express delivery companies keep the deliveries as liens due to unpaid express fees, and the senders claim against the express delivery companies for a return of the goods and compensation for the losses.

The disputes are focused on two issues. First, when information filled out by some senders and express delivery companies on the waybills is inadequate, and the delivery is missing or damaged, the parties will be in dispute over the value of the delivery. Second, in order to facilitate business and reduce their liabilities, the express delivery companies will provide senders waybills printed with certain template terms, or standard terms, such as “As for uninsured delivery, in case of damage or shortage, compensation shall be triple of the express fee”. Whether or not such template terms are valid will directly affect the amount of compensation. In accordance with the provisions of the Contract Law of the People’s Republic of China, the express delivery companies, as the providers of the template terms, shall be obligated to remind the senders of and explain template terms which involve exemption or restriction of their liabilities. In practice, with express delivery companies seldom reminding the senders of such and waybill template terms that are rarely printed in a large and bold face, when any delivery is missing or damaged and the express delivery company cannot produce evidence to prove that it has performed the obligation of reminding and explanation, the express delivery company may face legal consequences over invalidity of template terms and be liable for full compensation for the sender’s lost delivery.

Express Delivery Dispute Reduction

Senders should improve their awareness of risk and their ability to avoid risk, choose larger courier companies with a good reputation plus a mature and standardised management. They should also carefully read the terms and conditions on the waybills, and fill out the waybill in detail, ensuring the accuracy of name, address, telephone plus other adressee information. If of great value, it is advisable to insure the delivery.

Express delivery companies should strictly follow procedures during collecting, packaging and transportation in order to ensure delivery while improving employee professionalism.

The State Post Bureau, the China Express Association and the China Consumers Association also have a part to play in this, the healthy development of the express delivery industry.


In accordance with the newly effective Anti-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China, China will promulgate the Implementing Measures for Delivery of Mails and Parcels in Real Name in 2016, a draft of which is now published for public comments and aimed at building a more safe express delivery channel. The new measures may cause some inconvenience, but it will bring us safer express delivery services.

This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completeness. For more information please visit dandreapartners.com or WeChat: dandreapartners.


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Legal columnist Carlo D’Andrea is Chair of the Legal & Competition Working group of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China; Shanghai Chapter, Coordinator of the Nanjing Working Group of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China and has taught Chinese law (commercial and contractual) at Rome 3 University. 法律作家代开乐担任中国欧盟商会上海分会法律与竞争工作组主席,中国意大利商会劳动集团的协调员与曾经在罗马三大担任企业咨询课程中中国商法、合同法的课程教授。

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