On 17 Aug. 2021, China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) published the “Typical Cases of National Maritime Trial in 2020” (2020年全国海事审判典型案例). The ten typical cases cover disputes over compensation for damages to natural resources and ecological environment, and liability for ship collision.
Among these cases, the case Winship Maritime Inc. v. China Shipping Industry Co., Ltd. and Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry (Yangzhou) Co., Ltd. Concerning the dispute over shipbuilding commission contract ((2019) Hu 72 Min Chu No. 256, 胜船海事公司与中海工业有限公司、扬州中远海运重工有限公司船舶建造佣金合同纠纷案) indicates the active exploration of Chinese courts in the ascertainment of foreign law. During the court trial, after the explanations made by the court, each party concerned provided the relevant precedents of English law, declared to have exhausted the search, and confirmed together dozens of relevant precedents which may apply to this case. Then, the Court concluded the applicable ruling rules under English law according to the rank and time effect of the precedents and the matching degree with the case. These rules involve principles of contract interpretation, freedom of contract, and honesty and credibility under English law (common law) and the handling of commission contracts, responding to the reasonable expectations the parties had about the outcome of the dispute resolution when they choose the applicable law.