The maritime court structure of China was first set up in 1984 and over the short period since then the 10 main courts have established a further 39 branch courts up and down the coast and along the Yangtze, surely the largest maritime court structure worldwide.
Together these courts determine matters according to the Chinese Maritime Code of 1993. As one might expect in a country the size of China, court filings in 2015 were in the order of 16,000.
In their article, Peter Murray and John Lin, of Hisun & Co, Maritime Lawyers, Shanghai, explain the progress in the development of maritime law through the Chinese courts – from open and televised hearings, to the detail of a recent judgment of the Shanghai High Court.
That judgment apportioned liability in relation to damage to a shipment of crawler cranes – caused by a complex mixture of a typhoon, inadequate lashings and poor navigation – resulting in a 100 page decision under the Chine Maritime Code with a touch of Solomon’s justice applying.
The principles applied in that case under the Code were very much the same as those applicable under English law.
The article concludes that the Chinese maritime courts are dealing with an increasing number of complex and novel disputes for which new ways to handle them are evolving.