In May 2018, seven administrative agencies including the People's Government of Jianye District, Nanjing, Nanjing Transportation Bureau, Nanjing Maritime Safety Administration, the Water Branch of Nanjing Public Security Bureau, the Nanjing Branch of Yangtze River Shipping Public Security Bureau, Nanjing Water Affairs Bureau, and Nanjing Agriculture and Rural Bureau set up a joint team to carry out special actions to rectify the “Three Withouts” (“without name and number”, “without ship certificate” and “without registry port”) ships in some waters of the Nanjing section of the Yangtze River, identifying 19 vessels owned by 14 persons, including Zhang, as “Three Withouts” vessels, and towing them to the temporary detention area for confiscation and dismantlement. After learning that the vessels have been confiscated and dismantled, Zhang et al. started seeking help from government authorities at all levels in the forms of letters and visits. In June 2020, Zhang et al. filed an administrative lawsuit with Nanjing Maritime Court, demanding confirmation that the seven administrative organs of the joint team confiscated and dismantled ships illegally, and filed an administrative compensation lawsuit, requiring that the administrative organs to compensate each ship for losses ranging from several hundred thousand yuan to more than one million yuan.
After the case has been accepted according to law, Nanjing Maritime Court acquired a deep understanding of the background, progress and early situation about dispute handling of the rectification of the “Three Withouts” ships in the Yangtze River, combed the relevant laws, regulations and policies, analyzed and researched the practices, common disputes and judicial decisions of the rectification of the “Three Withouts” ships in various provinces and cities. In order to properly handle the discussed disputes according to law, Nanjing Maritime Court decided to take the lead in arranging 12 typical cases for trial, and notify the person in charge of the sued administrative organ to appear in court to respond to the lawsuit, and arrange the parties in other 26 cases to attend the trial. After finding out the facts of the cases in trial, the collegial panel rejected the litigations of the above 12 cases on the grounds that the cases exceeded the time limit for litigation. After the trial, the court patiently explained the applied laws and regulations and clarified the legal relationship. On the basis of fully considering the actual situation of the ships and the specific policies of the local government, the parties in other 26 cases voluntarily withdrew the lawsuits requesting confirmation of the administrative organ’s illegality, and reached a mediation agreement with the sued administrative organs on the administrative compensation, which was confirmed by the Nanjing Maritime Court.
Maritime administrative cases are one of the six categories of cases accepted by maritime courts. The discussed disputes over maritime administration involving the “Three Withouts” ships on the Yangtze River were properly concluded according to law, which is a successful practice for Nanjing Maritime Court to deepen the connection between administrative law enforcement and judicial disposal. It strongly supports the zero clearing of “Three Withouts” ships on the Yangtze River and demonstrates the maritime judicial protection of the Yangtze River. “Three Withouts” ships evade supervision and illegally engage in passenger traffic, cabin cleaning, sand excavation & fishing, electric welding repair and other business activities on the Yangtze River, which easily causes potential safety hazards of waterways and environmental pollution on the Yangtze River waters. Additionally, it is hard to investigate and handle the “Three Withouts” ships, and these situations turn to occur repeatedly. In the trial of this case, Nanjing Maritime Court conscientiously implemented the concept of “joint efforts rather than mass development”, based on the objective of resolving administrative disputes substantively, and guided the parties to such cases involving the “Three Withouts” ships of the Yangtze River to defend their rights rationally by organizing demonstration trial and rejecting Zhang’s lawsuit in advance according to law, thus laying a solid foundation for resolving contradictions and disputes and ensuring the detailed implementation of the relevant strategic arrangements for the protection of the Yangtze River. The successful conclusion of these disputes safeguard the rights and interests of people’s livelihood to the utmost extent, support and supervise the law-based administration of maritime administrative organs, and provided guidance for the maritime administrative organs to further improve the standardization of administrative law enforcement, which fully demonstrates the functional role of maritime trials in accordance with the law in promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and regional integration in the Yangtze River Delta.
[First-instance Trial, Case Number] (2020) Jiangsu 72, Administrative Case First Instance No.9-14, No.59-71, (2020) Jiangsu 72, Administrative Compensation Case First Instance No.3-21