A typical case represented by our lawyers is published by Informa i-Law (full text available)

14.02.2023 |NEWS&ARTICLES
The case SYRIANOS GEORGIOS v Dynamis Investment Corporation successfully handled by our lawyers, was recently published by Informa UK plc. in its Chinese Maritime and Commercial Law Report [2022] Vol 4 and included in the globally well-known electronic database Informa i-Law.
Founded in 1919, Lloyd's Law Reports is one of the world’s most trusted library sources of case law, rulings and current events for maritime law professionals. Informa UK plc has wide-ranging influence on international maritime and commercial law practice with the publication of its Lloyd's Law Reports. Informa i-Law is its large-scale legal resource database, covering well-known legal publications and typical case reports in the international commercial and maritime field, and has a very wide user base around the world. Its quarterly publication Chinese Maritime and Commercial Law Report, is edited by leading experts and scholars in the field of maritime and commercial law. It selects typical cases to show China's maritime and commercial judicial practice in English language, providing a broad international perspective for the study of maritime and commercial law in China.


Case Summary
The combination of cyclical fluctuations in the shipping economy, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the judicial arrest of the ship in a foreign country led to the abandonment of the ship and its crew by the shipowner in early 2021. Prior to the abandonment, disputes between the shipowner and charterers resulted in the ship being legally arrested by Guangzhou Maritime Court at Guishan Anchorage. The crew was trapped on board for over a year due to the need to continue to perform their duties onboard to ensure the safety of the ship in question as well as approaching ships and as a result of the difficulties created by the pandemic. After the ship was abandoned, the crew were left unpaid while the fuel, fresh water and food and other necessary supplies on board were about to run out, making the situation even difficult for the physically and mentally exhausted crew.

As the applicant for the ship arrest was a Hong Kong enterprise, the owner of the ship a Liberian enterprise, the arrested ship registered in Greece and the abandoned crew comprised Greek and Filipino nationals, the series of cases soon attracted wide attention from the international community. The Greek consulate in China, the Chinese consulate in Greece, the Foreign Affairs Department of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the PRC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, Guangzhou Maritime Court and Guangzhou MSA engaged in frequent exchanges, communication and coordination among each other for the matter.

Our legal team consisting of Huang Hui, Huang Qianxin and Liang Handeng represented the Greek crew who indicated to us that they had not received any pay for several months and their families, who were living on their wages, were in dire straits and hoped that our maritime lawyers could help them recover their legitimate wages and other payments from the shipowner the soonest possible and to communicate with the courts and other authorities to expedite their repatriation. Through our efforts and with the coordination of all parties, the crew was successfully repatriated on 22 July 2021, after being stranded in the Chinese port for over a year.


(the crew on repatriation)


Guangzhou Maritime Court held that: (1) the employment relationship between the 15 foreign crew members and the shipowner should be governed by Greek law and Philippine law respectively, as provided for in their employment contracts, (2) The master of the ship, as the shipowner's representative, confirmed the amount of remuneration due to each crew member for their service, and the validity of such confirmation was governed by Greek law and that (3) Chinese law applies to the claims of the 15 foreign crew members concerning maritime lien. The court upheld the claims of the 15 foreign crew members for remuneration and compensation under their respective employment contracts and ruled that such claim should be given the recognition of maritime liens and be paid out of the ship’s sale proceeds as a priority.

Our lawyer actively explored and successfully adopted an innovative approach to completing the verification of the identify of foreign litigants and their authorisation documents through online platform China Mobile Court Micro under the guidance of Guangzhou Maritime Court, which is the first of its kind in China. Previously, foreigners must have their identity and authorisation documents notarised by the notary public in their country and certified by the Chinese embassy or consulate in that country. Due to the pandemic restrictions, the Greek crew were not allowed to get ashore to have their identity and authorisation documents authenticated in the required manner, which could prevent them from duly registering their claims in time. Our lawyers were actively engaged with the court in exploring the possibility of an innovative alternative to solve this problem. Finally, the authentication process was properly conducted through the online platform China Mobile Court Micro.

The employment contract between the master and the shipowner provides for Greek law, which involved the challenge of properly ascertaining the foreign law. Our lawyers actively explored the most effective and pragmatic solution to the problem and perfectly solved it by working with a veteran Greek lawyer and guiding him to issue opinions on the legal issues involved. The approaches explored and adopted in this case can provide useful experience for  the identification and application of a foreign law. This case was also selected into “Typical Cases of National Maritime Trial in 2021” by China’s Supreme Court.

If you wish to obtain a copy of the full text of the judgement and the article published in the Chinese Maritime and Commercial Law Reports, please feel free to contact us.

Click here to access the article of Guangzhou Maritime Court on the case being included in the Chinese Maritime and Commercial Law Reports.