Dacheng represents client in maritime transport contract dispute

Dacheng has represented a client in a maritime transport contract dispute between an international shipping company and a Chinese polypeptide producer.

In June 2011, the international shipping company (the plaintiff) was entrusted by SIPG Logistics Co to ship polypeptide products to Puerto Quetzal, a port in Guatemala. When the goods arrived at Port of Lazaro Cardenas, the port of transshipment in Mexico, local customs checked the goods and seized them at the port since.

As the goods were sold by a Chinese polypeptide producer to a Hong Kong trade company, customs formalities showed that the exporter was the producer (the defendant). In view of this, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the defendant in Shanghai Maritime Court in July 2013, requiring demurrage charges for the extended use of containers as well as compensation for the containers.

Acting for the defence side, attorneys Wei Haibo and Xiao Zhiwei examined all available materials and found that the key issue lied in whether the defendant was the ‘consignor’ (contracting consignor or cargo-delivering consignor) provided in the maritime law. Basing their arguments on logical reasoning and evidence, the two attorneys concluded that the defendant was only a consignor bound by an international trade contract relationship, not the (either contracting or cargo-delivering) consignor bound by the maritime transport contract.

Pressed by the defendant and with the court mediating, the plaintiff lowered its claim to $10,000 (£6,000). In view of this, the court hoped that the two parties could reach a settlement. But the two attorneys, in order to protect the client’s best interests, refused to compromise. In March 2013, Shanghai Maritime Court issued the first-instance judgment in which all claims brought up by the plaintiff were rejected.