BOA BARGES AS vs. Nanjing Yichun Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Dispute over International Shipbuilding Contract

Update:Dec,10,2020 Views:2434

[Case Details]

On April 18, 2007, Norwegian ship owner BOA OFFSHORE AS, ordered ships from Nanjing Yichun Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Nanjing Yichun Company”) and signed three Semi-Submersible Heavy-duty Deck Barge Contracts with a total price of nearly US$50 million. The contracts agreed that disputes shall be arbitrated in London and governed by English law. On May 17, 2010, Norwegian ship owner BOA BARGES AS, as the new purchaser, assumed the rights and obligations of the original three contracts. With the occurrence of the dispute over the contract performance, both parties decided to terminate the Contract on December 8, 2015, but failed to reach an agreement on a series of issues after the termination of the contract. By the beginning of 2020, the dispute cannot be solved by negotiation due to its escalation. Thus, both parties shall apply to the London Court of International Arbitration for arbitration in accordance with the relevant contract to solve the dispute.

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020 has a great impact on international arbitration. Especially with the increasingly severe situation of global epidemic, many European countries adopt entry restrictions and other prevention and control measures. Based on various factors, both parties signed the Supplementary Agreement on May 16, which agreed to submit the dispute to Nanjing Maritime Court for adjudication and apply Chinese laws. On June 11, the plaintiff BOA BARGES AS entrusted lawyers with a lawsuit to Nanjing Maritime Court, requesting the defendant Nanjing Yichun Company to return the advance payment and the accrued interest.

 [Verdict]

At the acceptance of this case, it was found through examination that the power of attorney of the plaintiff's attorney shall be notarized by the Norwegian notary office and authenticated by the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Norway. However, due to the influence of the pandemic situation, the plaintiff failed to submit the authenticated notarial documents to the court. In view of the actual impact of the pandemic on notarization and authentication and the complete specifications of other relevant filing materials of the case, and the plaintiff's attorney promised to complete the authenticated notarial documents before the trial, Nanjing Maritime Court decided to file the case first, allowing the attorney to delay submitting and authorization procedures. In the process of trial, in order to reduce the risks brought about by the flow and gathering of people during the pandemic, the judge in charge, on the basis of carefully examining the evidence materials involved in the case, facilitated the parties to reach a mediation agreement by handling the case through the Internet, and concluded the case in 27 days.

[Significance]

Jiangsu is a major shipbuilding province in China, with shipbuilding completion, order placement and existing orders ranking first in China for consecutive years, and all indicators accounting for more than 30% of the national total. There are a large number of ship cases accepted by Nanjing Maritime Court, accounting for 29.71% of the total number of civil cases. This case is an international ship construction contract dispute. Against the backdrop of the increasingly severe global COVID-19 epidemic, the foreign party took the initiative to alter the dispute resolution method from arbitration in London to filing a lawsuit to Nanjing Maritime Court and applying Chinese law, which is not only based on the trust in China's efforts to build the International Maritime judicial center and optimize the judicial environment, but also fully recognized the Nanjing Maritime Court's service to ensure the construction of "the Belt and Road Initiative" and actively build a preferred place for maritime litigation. During the COVID-19 epidemic, Nanjing Maritime Court allows foreign parties to postpone the submission of relevant notarization and authentication documents according to the relevant guidelines of the Guiding Opinions of the Supreme People's Court on Several Issues Concerning the Proper Trial of Civil Cases Involving COVID-19, and actively used the Internet in handling cases to promote the resolution of disputes in a timely manner, which truly realized the vision of normal trial and execution without halt the justice during COVID-19 epidemic. It is a great practice of equally protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese and foreign parties, actively optimizing the rule of law, internationalization and facilitating the business environment, which fully embodies the advantages of the socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics.

[First-instance Trial, Case Number] (2020) Jiangsu72,Civil Case First Instance No.611