Court of appeal of the state of California, 1 June 2018, Rockefeller Technology Investment (Rockefeller Tech.) v. Changhzou Sinotype Technology Co., Ltd. (SinoType), no. B272170

SinoType (“Appellant”) was ordered to pay $ 414 million to Rockefeller Tech following arbitration proceedings in which the company did not participate. The Superior Court of Los Angeles City, in a default procedure initiated by Rockefeller Tech, recognized the award. SinoType was notified about the procedure and the decision by post, as provided for in the memorandum of understanding concluded by the parties. SinoType appealed.

The Appellant raised two pleas in support of its claims.The first point, rejected by the Court of Appeal, related to the binding force of the Memorandum of understanding that it called into question. The second point, upheld by the Court of Appeal to overturn the appealed judgment, concerned the interpretation of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.

The Court agrees with the Appellant’s arguments and admits that the Convention does not allow the parties to derogate contractually from either the Convention’s provisions, or from the reservations made by the States under this Convention. Thus, as the co-contractor of Rockefeller Tech is Chinese, the service requirements imposed by the Chinese State, which expressly refuse the notification by post, must be respected.

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