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  • Four WJNCO Cases Selected by Guangdong Lawyers Association as Leading Cases to Demonstrate Foreign-related Legal Services

  • DATE:2020-1-20
  • Four cases handled by WJNCO lawyers have been recently selected into the Collection of Leading Cases to Demonstrate Foreign-related Legal Services 2014-2018 which is compiled and printed by the Guangdong Lawyers Association and the Guangdong “Belt and Road” Legal Service Research Center.

    The dispute case over ship collision liability “Changhong Group HK Limited vs. Bright Shipping Limited & National Iranian Tanker Company”, as handled by our Mr. Chen Xiangyong and Mr. Xu Jun, is awarded the first prize. The case concerns jurisdiction challenge in consequence of an accident in which an Iranian tanker collided with a Hong Kong bulk carrier outside the Yangtze River Estuary before exploding/burning and sinking into sea. It is the first explosion and collision involving an oil tanker carrying condensate in shipping history and is also the most catastrophic oil spill accident over the past century. WJNCO, representing the owner of CF Crystal and their insurers, took legal actions first in China, highlighting the international judicial credibility of Chinese maritime courts. Subsequently, the Iranian oil tanker Sanchi initiated a parallel proceeding in Hong Kong, seeking a shift of jurisdiction, and raised jurisdiction challenge before Shanghai Maritime Court. The case covers almost all kinds of maritime contentious issues; moreover, the international community's sanctions against Iran have added unpredictable factors affecting possible case resolution, attracting attention of world-wide legal communities in shipping sector. In 2019, the Shanghai Maritime Court and the Higher People's Court of Shanghai Municipality, prudently dealt with matters of parallel proceeding and the “doctrine of forum non conveniens” and, by giving a comprehensive and meticulous analysis of various elements concerning the case, finally rejected Sanchi's jurisdictional challenge; the rejection somehow provides a practical reference for Chinese courts to deal with similar cases in the future. The case will further be heard by the Shanghai Maritime Court on substantive issues. With regard to the parallel lawsuit initiated by the Iranian tanker Sanchi in Hong Kong, WJNCO have provided various written opinions concerning Chinese law as required by Hong Kong lawyers to challenge Hong Kong courts as “inconvenient forums”. Substantive trials of the case will continue at courts of Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

    The serial cases of dispute over contract for carriage of goods by sea “Xuanhui International Logistics Co., Ltd (“Xuanhui”) vs. Chile South American Line Co., Ltd. (‘CSAV’)”, as handled by our Mr. Wang Jun, is awarded the second prize. These cases concern typical disputes over cargo release without production of original bill of lading, in which Xuanhui filed a series of lawsuits before maritime courts of Ningbo, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou on grounds that the consignee took cargo delivery without production of original bills of lading, requesting the courts to order CSAV to compensate more than USD 20 millions. In handling the serial cases, WJNCO lawyers made a holistic review of the Chinese litigation procedures together with the legal proceedings in China, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom, and collaborated with foreign lawyers in applying to the UK High Court for anti-suit Injunctions and worldwide freezing orders and applying to Hong Kong courts for recognition of worldwide freezing orders and winding-up orders, successfully freezing the plaintiff’s properties in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, in South America, Indonesia, South Africa, Mainland China and Hong Kong, we carried out thorough investigations into the plaintiffs’ alleged trade process and adduced sufficient evidence proving that the trade documents disclosed by plaintiffs were unauthentic, their alleged process was not part of the course of trade, and the plaintiffs suffered no loss as the cargo had actually been delivered to the buyer. Accordingly, the courts adjudged to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims entirely. After a retrial, the Supreme People's Court sustained the original judgment. These serial cases cover a majority of defenses (such as the claimed amount and numerous foreign-related factors) as typically raised in similar cases of cargo delivery without production of original bills of lading, and provide great reference value for handling foreign-related disputes from an international perspective. 

    Also selected are other two cases handled by WJNCO, i.e. “Arbitration Case of International Bulk Commodity Trade Disputes Involving Columbia Grain Trading Inc. (‘CGTI’)” and “Drug Smuggling Crime by Foreigner (Death Penalty Commuted to Life Imprisonment)”. The case “Arbitration Case of International Bulk Commodity Trade Disputes Involving Columbia Grain Trading Inc.”, handled by WJNCO lawyers Mr. Zhao Shuzhou and Ms. Yang Bo, was awarded the second prize. We represented CGTI in dealing with disputes over sales contracts of agricultural bulk cargo with many Chinese grain importers, claiming for compensation by taking multiple legal actions, including initiating arbitration proceedings in London, filing lawsuits in China, taking preservation actions against overseas properties, and conducting commercial negotiations with parties concerned, etc. so as to recover losses for clients. The case “Drug Smuggling Crime by Foreigner (Death Penalty Commuted to Life Imprisonment)”, handled by our Mr. Jiang Guoyong, was granted the excellence award. Mr. Jiang Guoyong is adept at the practicing the PRC Criminal Law and well aware of the practice of China's criminal adjudication. In the process of defending against the drug crime suspect, Mr. Jiang abandoned the prevailing defense point that the “subordinate” suspect had no clear awareness of the drug, i.e. “the drug had not come into the public domain and caused no severe harm to society”; instead he focused the defense on the suspect’s sincere confession and repentance. By resorting to rational reasoning on basis of true facts and pleading for leniency, Mr. Jiang Guoyong achieved a satisfactory defense results.

    The selection of leading cases to demonstrate foreign-related legal services is a provisional event held by the Guangdong Lawyers Association in 2019 in order to summarize Guangdong lawyers’ experiences in providing foreign-related legal services, strengthen exchanges on foreign-related legal services, speed up the nurture of foreign-related lawyers, and encourage Guangdong lawyers to “go globally”. The Guangdong Lawyers Association selected totally 49 leading cases to demonstrate foreign-related legal services of Guangdong from 2014 to 2018, including 5 first-prize cases, 10 second-prize cases, 14 third-prize cases, and 20 excellence-award cases. Selection of the four WJNCO-handled cases not only fully demonstrates our professionalism in handling complex foreign-related cases for proactively implementing the "going globally" policy, but also illustrates WJNCO’s dedication to be an excellent legal service provider with enthusiasm for sharing and exchanging information with foreign and domestic counterparts.

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