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Reasonably identify the carrier’s obligation on the bill of lading and maintain the negotiability of the bill of lading in international trade



——Dispute over liability for damage to maritime property between Yuancheng Bean Industry Co., Ltd. and Fuxing Shipping Co., Ltd

[basic case]

On February 28, 2017, over 60000 tons of bulk Brazilian soybeans ordered by Yuancheng company from foreign investors were loaded on the “Meijia” ship of Fuxing company and transported from Paranagua port in Brazil to Songxia port in Fuzhou, China. Yuancheng company obtains a full set of documents under the letter of credit including the bill of lading through payment. After the goods arrived at the port of destination, Yuancheng company found abnormal goods during unloading. After inspection, most of the impurities, carbonated particles and heat damaged particles in the cargo are randomly distributed in the cargo hold, indicating that this situation has existed at the loading port, and no large-scale water wet caking or mildew phenomenon is found in the cargo at the unloading port. Yuancheng entrusted the company to carry out the damage inspection, and the conclusion is that the actual loss of goods is 20026172.98 yuan. Yuancheng company filed a lawsuit to order Fuxing company to compensate for the loss of goods price, interest and pre litigation detention fee on the ground that the carrier issued a clean bill of lading in violation of the annotation obligation, resulting in the loss of its opportunity to refuse external payment.

[judgment result]

The Xiamen maritime court held that the case was a foreign-related case, and both parties cited Chinese laws, especially the maritime law, to support their respective claims, which should be deemed that the parties agreed to apply Chinese laws to resolve the dispute. In this case, it should be judged whether Fuxing company has violated its legal obligations and whether there is any fault according to the relevant provisions of the maritime law. Fuxing company did not make comments on the soybean quality indicators involved in the case, which did not violate its legal obligations. It had no fault in issuing the clean bill of lading and did not constitute an infringement on Yuancheng company. The loss of Yuancheng company is caused by the seller’s failure to provide the goods according to the standards specified in the goods quality certificate under its trade contract, which is a risk under the trade contract and should not be borne by the carrier. According to this judgment, the claim of Yuancheng company was rejected. Yuancheng company filed an appeal and withdrew the appeal during the second instance.

[typical meaning]

This case is a case in which the holder of the bill of lading made a claim on the ground that the carrier’s failure to perform obligation on the bill of lading resulted in his loss of the right to refuse to pay the payment under the letter of credit. The maritime law only provides in principle for the carrier to annotate the cargo condition when issuing the bill of lading. In practice, there are disputes about how to grasp the annotation standard. This case is comprehensively analyzed in combination with the practice of international trade and international shipping, correctly explains the provisions of maritime law, and makes it clear that the grade and quality index of goods do not belong to the scope of the carrier’s bill of lading annotation; The carrier’s judgment on the surface condition of the goods shall be based on the operation conditions; In the case that the abnormal particles of the goods are not concentrated and agglomerated, the carrier does not make a judgment that the surface condition of the goods is poor, which conforms to the three rules of normal knowledge and common judgment standards. It is determined that the issuance of the clean bill of lading by the carrier does not violate the annotation obligation of the bill of lading, properly balances the interests of both the ship and the cargo, and maintains the circulation of the bill of lading in international trade.



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