International Trade

How to do when the Supplier refuses to deliver the Original B/L?

Case Study/案例分析

 

How to do when the Supplier refuses to deliver the Original B/L?

------A trading dispute between a Chinese Supplier and a Canadian Buyer


当供应商拒绝交付提单原件怎么办?

------一个中国供应商和加拿大买家的贸易纠纷


By Min Chow, Partner/
曹卓敏 合伙人 

I. Case description/案件描述

Ø  On Oct 18, 2011, the Canadian buyer named FA sent PO #2011xxx to a Chinese supplier named Cross for purchasing fans at the value of $52780. Cross confirmed the said PO.

2011年11月18日,一个加拿大买家FA公司向中国供应商Cross发出了编号为PO #2011xxx的订单,以采购价值52780美元的电扇。Cross确认该订单。


Ø  On February 15, 2012, FA paid deposit to Cross at the amount of $15834 according to the PO #2011xxx.

2012年2月15日,FA根据订单约定,向Cross支付15834美元的订金。


Ø  In April 2012, during the meeting between the two parties, Cross agreed to compensate FA counsel fee at the amount of $15,000 for FA’s legal proceeding pending in Canadian Court concerning a third party’s infringement charge against the products supplied by Cross and sold by FA in Canada.

2012年4月,双方会面期间,Cross同意向FA支付15000美元的律师费作为Cross就现正由加拿大法院审理的一宗由第三方提起的、针对Cross生产并由FA在加拿大销售的产品侵权诉讼的补偿。


Ø  On April 23, 2012, Cross sent a commercial invoice dated March 23, 2012 to FA confirming the deduction of counsel fee of $15,000 from the price due, so the total balance of the PO #201151112-2 that shall be paid by FA is $24,408.

2012年4月23日,Cross 向FA发出一张日期为2012年3月23日的商业发票,确认从到期款项中扣减15000美元的律师费,所以,编号为#201151112-2的订单的未结余款总额为24408美元。


Ø  On April 23, 2012, FA paid the balance of $24,408 to Cross. On the same date, Cross sent a scanned copy of bill of lading CBC01040060 to FA and promised to provide FA with the original bill of lading upon receipt of the balance.

2012年4月23日,FA向Cross支付24,408美元的余款。同日,Cross向FA发送了编号为CBC01040060的提单的扫描件,并承诺在收到余款后将向FA提供提单原件。


Ø  The bill of lading CBC01040060 is issued by TLP Ocean Consolidators INC (hereafter referred as TLP) but signed by TLP’s Chinese agent China INT’L FREIGHT CO., LTD. The shipper is Cross; and FA is marked as the consignee. So the bill of lading CBC01040060 is a named bill of lading.

编号为CBC01040060的提单是由TLP公司发出,但是由TLP公司在中国的代理中国国际货运公司签署。托运人是Cross. 而FA被标注为收货人。所以该提单是一份记名提单。


Ø  There is a jurisdiction clause on the surface of the bill of lading CBC01040060, “except for the carrier’s recourses for the payment of any amount due under this agreement (which recourse may be brought in any jurisdiction where the Goods or the Merchant may be found), any dispute arising out of this agreement shall be referred to the exclusive jurisdiction of the competent Canadian Court in Montreal Canada.”

在编号为CBC01040060的提单上,有一管辖条款,规定“除承运人根据本协议追索任何到期之款项外(该追索可以提交到货物或者货主所在地管辖),任何因本协议引起的争议应被提交到加拿大蒙特利尔有管辖权的法院做排他管辖”。


Ø  The container arrived in Toronto on May 2, 2012. But Cross refused to provide FA with the original bill of lading CBC01040060, so FA cannot take delivery of the goods.

2012年5月2日集装箱抵达多伦多。但是Cross拒绝向FA提供编号为CBC01040060的提单原件,以致FA不能提取货物。


Ø  FA hopes to get the bill of lading as soon as possible so that they can take delivery the goods and resell them to the sub-buyer. Delayed delivery of goods to the sub-buyer will make FA suffer from great loss due to breach of contract.

FA希望能尽快取得提单,以便提取货物并且转售给下游买家。迟延向下游买家交付货物将会使FA遭受重大的违约损失。


II. Legal Advice /法律意见

According to the case description, HY attorney’s advice is as followed:

根据案件描述,环宇律师的法律意见如下:


1.      FA may try to request TLP to release the goods without the original bill of lading.

FA可尝试要求TLP无单放货。

The bill of lading (hereafter referred to as “B/L”) CBC01040060 is a named B/L rather than a to-order B/L or an open B/L, so in nature it is not a document of title, but a cargo receipt to some extent. In some jurisdiction (e.g. China in some circumstances), the consignee marked on the named B/L may request the carrier to release the goods by merely producing the identity certificate such as business license or authorization letter without tendering the original named B/L. According to the jurisdiction clause of the B/L CBC01040060, Canada court has jurisdiction over the dispute. So I suggest FA to ask Canada lawyer for advice on whether under Canada law the named consignee of a B/L can request the carrier to release the goods by only tendering its identity certificate. If it is workable under Canada law, then FA may require TLP to release the goods by producing its identity certificate; if TLP refuses, FA may file lawsuit against TLP directly in Canada immediately.

编号为CBC01040060的提单是一份记名提单而不是指示提单或者不记名提单。在某些法域(如中国在某些情况下),记名提单上记载的收货人可以仅在出示身份证明如营业执照或者授权书,而不提交记名提单原件的情况下要求承运人放货。根据该提单的管辖条款,加拿大法院对该争议有管辖权。因此我建议FA就在加拿大法律下记名提单的提货人能否凭身份证明要求承运人发货的问题咨询加拿大律师的意见。如果在加拿大法律下是可行的,则FA可以通过向TLP出示身份证明要求TLP发货。如果TLP拒绝,FA可以立即在加拿大法院提起针对TLP的诉讼。


2.      FA may try to request TLP to release the goods by tendering a letter of guarantee instead of the B/L.

FA可以保函代替提单要求TLP放货。

If the suggestion in Item 1 is not workable under Canada law, FA may try to request TLP to release the goods by tendering a letter of guarantee to TLP. Normally in the letter of guarantee, FA shall promise to take any liability for TLP’s loss caused by its release of goods without B/L. TLP could possibly require FA to pay some guarantee fund and keep it for a reasonable period.

TLP could worry the risk of being sued and claimed for compensation by Cross, FA may try to persuade TLP with the reasons I mentioned in Item 3

如果上述第1点所提的建议在加拿大法律下不可行,FA可以尝试以向TLP出具保函的方式要求TLP放货。通常,在保函中,FA应承诺会就TLP无单放货而对TLP遭受的任何损失承担责任。就此,TLP还可能会要求FA支付一些保证金并且保留一段的合理期限。

TLP可能会担心被Cross起诉和要求赔偿的风险。FA可以尝试按照下述第三点所提的理由说服TLP。


3.      TLP’s risk of release of goods without bill of lading

TLP无单放货的风险

In case TLP releases the goods to FA without being tendered the B/L, TLP could be sued by Cross for compensation thus incurred by the reason of tort or breach of contract. But I think there are obstacles for Cross to file such a lawsuit:

如果TLP向FA无单放货,TLP可能会被Cross以侵权或者违约为由要求赔偿损失。但我认为Cross要提起该诉讼会有如下障碍:


3.1 According to the jurisdiction clause of the B/L CBC01040060, any dispute arising from this B/L shall be submitted to the jurisdiction of Canada. So Cross has to go to Canada to initiate the lawsuit, which is time consuming and in high cost. Moreover, as mentioned in 3.2, Cross actually does not have any loss even though TLP releases the goods without B/L. As a rational merchant, possibly Cross will not file the lawsuit against TLP in Canada.

根据CBC01040060提到的管辖条款,任何因本提单引起的争议应提交到加拿大法院管辖。所以Cross不得不到加拿大提起诉讼,这将会耗费时间和花费很高的成本。而且,如第3.2条所言,即便TLP无单放货,Cross事实上没有任何损失。作为一个理性的商人,Cross将不会在加拿大提起对TLP的诉讼。


3.2 Cross suffers no loss even though TLP releases the goods without B/L. FA has strong evidence in hands that Cross has received full amount of payment from FA for the goods delivered. So even though Cross files a lawsuit against TLP, it cannot get any compensation due to no loss incurred from TLP’s release of the goods without B/L.

即便TLP无单放货,Cross没有遭受任何损失。因为FA有很强的证据证明Cross已经收到FA的全额货款。因此即便Cross提起针对TLP的诉讼,Cross也不能取得任何赔偿因为它没有因为TLP的无单放货而遭受任何损失。


3.3 There is possibility for a Chinese court to entertain Cross’s lawsuit against TLP regardless of the jurisdiction clause and only in consideration of national protectionism. But in this circumstance, TLP can still put forward jurisdiction dissents to challenge the Chinese Court. Even though the Chinese court finally rules that TLP shall pay compensation for Cross’s loss (if any), however, the ruling of the Chinese court will not be acknowledged or respected by Canada Court, so actually Cross cannot execute the ruling and get any compensation from TLP without the help of Canada Court.

虽然中国法院有不理会管辖条款而只考虑国家保护主义而受理Cross针对TLP的诉讼的可能性,但在这情况下,TLP仍可向中国法院提出管辖权异议。即便中国法院最终裁定TLP应向Cross赔偿损失(如有),但中国法院的裁决是不会被加拿大法院承认或遵循的,所以实时上Cross将因得不到加拿大法院的帮助而不能执行中国法院关于由TLP赔偿的裁定。


4.      File a lawsuit against Cross in China.

在中国起诉

To negotiate with TLP can help FA to take delivery of the goods without bill of lading as soon as possible. But if TLP refuses to accept either of the proposals as mentioned above, the rest thing that FA can do is to file a lawsuit against Cross in China claiming for delivery of the B/L and compensation thus incurred. However, according to the Chinese Civil Procedure Law, in order to initiate the litigation procedure, a foreign entity plaintiff shall submit its entity document which has been certified by the Chinese Embassy in the place where the foreign entity plaintiff is located. And all evidence not originated within the territory of China shall also go through the aforesaid certification procedure and then be translated into Chinese. To finish this preparation work, it takes at least 3 weeks. After the Chinese Court entertains the lawsuit, it takes a least one month (normally longer) for the Court to review the case materials before issuing any Marine Compulsory Order to Cross requiring it to deliver the B/L. Moreover, for issuing this Order, FA shall provide guarantee fund. Obviously, initiation of a lawsuit in China against Cross cannot help FA to get possession of the goods in short time.

与TLP协商能帮助FA在没有提单的情况下尽快提取到货物。但是如果TLP拒绝上述提到的任一方案,则FA能做的事情就是在中国法院提起对Cross的诉讼,要求其交付提单并赔偿由此产生的损失。但是,根据中国的《民事诉讼法》,外国主体(原告)为在中国提起诉讼应提交由原告所在地的中国大使馆认证的原告主体资料。并且所有不是在中国境内形成的证据均必须按前述程序办理认证手续,还要翻译成中文。完成这些准备工作至少需要3个星期的时间。在中国法院受理了案件之后,法院将要花至少一个月的时间(通常更长)以审阅案件材料,此后再发出海事强制令要求Cross交付提单。而且,就发出海事强制令,FA还须提供保证金。明显,通过在中国法院向Cross提起诉讼的方式不能帮助FA在短时间内取得货物。