China: The Implications Of The "Ocean Victory" Case (Chinese)

Last Updated: 28 June 2017
Article by Andrew Rourke

正如公众预想的,法院的判决抓住了英国航运法的三个关键问题。尽管基于上诉法院的判决结果,最高院的判决结果可能并不出奇,但最高院对其中一个问题的判定将产生深远的影响,并可能促使船东及其保险公司对现有合同条款进行重新审视。

事实

2006年10月 "OCEAN VICTORY"号在试图离开日本鹿岛港时遇到大风,发生搁浅,之后船体断裂。该船舶拥有为期10年的光租协议,并适用Barecon 89标准格式,由船东Ocean Victory Marine出租给其关联公司Ocean Line Holdings(光租承租)。Ocean Line Holdings之后将该船舶期租给中国租船有限公司(期租承租人),该期租承租人又以航次期租的方式将该船舶转租于Daiichi。所有租船合同都有安全港口保证条款。

该船舶发生事故导致保险公司的总损失超过1.37亿美元,其中包括船舶的价值、收入损失、救助费用和残骸打捞费用等。

Gard作为船东/光租承租人的保险公司,对期租承租人提起上述损失的索赔,而期租承租人又对程租承租人提出索赔,声称鹿岛港不是安全港,船舶在涌浪及强北风的共同作用下发生了事故,而这两个天气问题都是该港口常见的天气问题。

关键问题

涉案各方一致认为最高院应当决定的关键问题是:

  1. (程租)承租人是否违反了租约规定的安全港口保证?
  2. Barecon 89标准格式的第12条的共同保险条款是否排除(船东对光租承租人)因违反安全港口保证而提出索赔的权利?这成为最高院需要判定的最具争议性问题,同时也是具有深远影响的问题。
  3. 如果程租承租人被认定违反了安全港口保证,根据1976年的《海事赔偿责任限制公约》/《1995年商船运输法》其是否有权主张责任限制?

一审判决

一审中,法官认为事故是涌浪及强北风造成的,这在鹿岛港并非罕见。他认为事故发生原因是" 该港口的特征",并非" 异常情况"。租船人因此违反了安全港口的保证。

他同时认定Barecon 89 标准格式的第12条并不排除船东对光租承租人提出索赔,因此该索赔可以转移给期租承租人。

一审判决船东及其保险公司可获得1.37亿美元的赔偿。

上诉法院

但是上诉法院持有完全不同的意见,认为鹿岛港是安全港口。一审的法官的判定有误:他认为由于导致事故发生的两个因素自身都是寻常因素,因此无需考虑两个因素同时发生是否寻常,但就是因为两个因素同时发生才导致了该事故的发生。此外,他的判定方法过于理论化,仅从理论上考虑了事故发生的可预见性而不是就实际成因而密切考察该港口的历史。

关于共同保险的问题,上诉法院认为即便鹿岛港被认定为不安全港,光租承租人也不负有责任,因为船东已经同意由保险公司而非光租承租人来承担赔偿责任。光租承租人因此对期租承租人也没有赔偿请求权。

船东及其保险公司提出了上诉。

最高院

最高院经过考虑后,很快在第一和第三项关键问题上达成了一致意见。

安全港口保

法官维持了上诉法院认为该港口是安全港口的判决,认定(程租)承租人没有违反安全港口保证。一审法官认为导致事故的每个因素(涌浪和强北风)各自都是寻常因素,他们构成了该港口的特征,并非异常情况,这一判断是错误的。最高院也不同意不安全必须仅仅"能合理预见"。最高院认为这个判断是错误的,并同意上诉法院的意见,即在该案中,正确的判断方法是要确定涌浪和强北风的共同出现是否是该港口的特征或是否为异常情况。最高院一致同意上诉法院的判定,即导致事故的原因是异常情况。而"异常情况"并不是一个专业术语,应按照其通常含义进行理解,即不正常、意想不到的情况。

责任限

在处理责任限制的问题上,最高院的意见也比较统一,即参照上诉法院对于CMA "DJAKARTA"2一案的判决,根据1976年的《海事赔偿责任限制公约》/《1995年商船运输法》,程租承租人对于船舶的损失不享有限制其责任的权利。

共同保

最高院判决中最有争议的部分就是共同保险的问题。假设违反了安全港口的保证,那么Gard作为光租承租人的受托人,能否以光租承租人因违反安全港口保证而须对船东负责为由,将船东对光租承租人的索赔(就船舶承保价值)转移给期租承租人。在这一问题上,最终最高院以三比二的微弱优势,支持了上诉法院的意见。

第12条规定,光船承租人有义务根据船东批准的形式,以双方共同的名义,按照约定的价值,为船舶安排和维持保险;光船承租人有义务对船舶进行修理(无论是否在承保范围内)。该条款同时也规定了发生全损情况下如何处理保险赔付的问题。

Toulson, Mance和Hodge这三位法官认为第12条的规定排除了共同被保之间的索赔权利,所以船东不得向光租承租人索赔。所以,光租承租人也无法向期租承租人索赔。

由此引发的问题是双方是否试图成立一项保险基金,当发生相关损失时该基金是唯一的赔偿途径,即他们是否就如何处理此类损失已经规定了完整的赔偿机制?换言之,该保险基金的存在某种程度上是否可以与对违约产生的损失进行索赔的权利共存?

占多数的三位法官一致认为(12条)已经规定了完整的赔偿机制,根据该规定,共同保险人之间无法提出索赔。对于这一分析的有批评认为这将导致遭受损失的一方无法进行追偿。但另一种意见认为该索赔可以基于其他规则提起,例如财产寄托(bailment),这将不属于合同条款范围,因此不会被共同保险的条款所排除。但这并非本案原告所寻求的索赔。虽然事后看来,原告没有以bailment的名义提出索赔显然是错误的,但在索赔提出时确实很少有人会预见到第12条的潜在后果。

持不同意见的法官的分析也有其合理性。Sumption法官和Clarke法官同意共同保险人之间不得就承保的损失互相索赔。但是回答了这个问题之后,Sumption法官又提出了一个问题"...当我们说共同保险人之间不得就承保的损失互相索赔时,是因为合同条款免除了一方赔偿另一方的义务还是因为在共同保险人之间,保险人的付款已足以补偿损失,因此也满足了一方对另一方的赔偿义务? "

他对此的回答是在保险人、船东和光租承租人之间,保险人对船东的付款构成了对船东损失的赔偿,这满足了但不排除光租承租人在租船合同项下对船舶损失赔偿的义务。光租承租人可以因此向期租承租人提出索赔。

简评

尽管对于共同保险问题的分析看似学术性很强,但它对于保险公司来说有实际的财政上的影响。虽然一部分争议是关于第12条和修改后的第29条(安全港口保证)之间的联系,但租船合同下可能会产生其他诉因而这些诉因可能和本判决相冲突。

保险公司目前面临这样一个问题,即现有的许多长期光船租赁合同可能成为引爆大量损失的定时炸弹。船东和保险公司应理性审视租船合同中的共同保险条款(以及它们与其他条款之间的关联)来避免保险公司丧失对已承担的损失进行追偿的权利。

[1] Gard Marine and Energy Limited 诉中国租船有限公司和另一方(2017年)

[2] CMA CGM SA 诉 Classica Shipping Co Ltd (2004年)

2017年6月首次在"Marine Risk International" 中被报道

The Implications Of The "Ocean Victory" Case (Chinese)

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