Greek firm told to pay for Chinese salvage work

On July 7th, a Greek company was ordered by the Supreme People’s Court of China to pay a Chinese transport authority 6.59 million yuan ($985,000), for breaching a salvage agreement and overturning the original ruling.

According to the Supreme People’s Court, the Greek corporation Archangelos Investment E.N.E had agreed that the Nanhai Rescue Bureau of the Ministry of Transport would salvage its ship, which was grounded in Qiongzhou Strait in 2011.

Unexpectedly, the court said that the corporation refused to pay over the following time. Not only that, the corporation claimed that the authority did not put enough effort on the salvage, and it was failed. The authority appealed to the maritime court of Guangzhou, arguing that they should get the payment whether the salvage effort was successful or not. The authority lost the lawsuit in Guangzhou. After that, the authority applied to the Supreme People’s Court for retrial at the end of 2015.

The chief justice He Rong overturned the original verdict after a six-hour hearing on Thursday.

Si Yuzhuo, a marine law professor at Dalian Maritime University in Liaoning province, said that payment was not based on if it was a successful salvage, but on whether the authority provided services for the company or not. He also said that this case would help grassroots courts to solve some similar disputes as well.

The associate researcher Zhang Wenguang who is specializing in international law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the final verdict is in accordance with the international specifications.

“In recent years, a rising number of foreign litigants have preferred Chinese courts. By hearing about maritime cases, litigants at home and abroad will digest more about the principles of Chinese courts,” Zhang said.

There are 10 Chinese maritime courts handled more than 30,800 cases by the end of last year, and the annual growth rate of the cases was at close to 43%. At the end of last year, the chief grand justice of the Supreme People’s Court Zhou Qiang asked courts to study international conventions covering marine disputes and to improve the quality of related case hearings.

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