Joint Efforts Helped to Deliver Successful Enforcement Outcomes -- Haikou Maritime Court Enforced Two Maritime Injunctions in the "Summer Storm" Action
“Bravo!” Amid the exciting applause in a shipyard on Xinbu Island, Haikou, two fishing boats finally took water and sailed. The successful launch was a result of the joint efforts of the court, the fishery administration, and the police. In its “Summer Storm” campaign, the Haikou Maritime Court had intensified efforts in trial and enforcement to achieve its semi-annual closing rate target. With these efforts, two fishing boats, which had been laid idle for many years and given rise to multiple disputes and complaints, finally set foot on their first voyage. The tough problem standing long on the agenda was finally resolved with favorable legal, social and political results.
The building of the two fishing boats started in 2013 at the applicants’ expense and were about to be completed and serve in 2015. However, lengthy litigation and enforcement procedures started to haunt the boats as the shipyard (i.e. the respondent) was held in breach of contract. Finally, the two fishing boats were confirmed to be in the ownership of the applicants in a judgment made by the High People’s Court of Hainan Province.
The applicants went to the shipyard for three times in 2015, 2017 and 2018 to take the boats, but only to be frustrated by the local people who insisted that the shipyard must pay the rent arrears for bailout of the ships. The boats were hence left unattended in the open air for more than three years and their hull had become rusted in some parts. The helpless applicants had no choice but to apply with the Haikou Maritime Court for a maritime injunction for release of the ships. The two boats finally entered the water on June 6 & 7, 2020.
Many factors helped to bring the enforcement to success:
The handling of the case involving the two fishing boats was quite a tough task despite multiple mediations and reviews by the case filing, trial and enforcement divisions of the Court. When the applicants finally filed the injunction application, the court leaders took it seriously. President Xu Yahui and Vice President Chen Xiangzhi were fully involved to make arrangements and coordinate with the shipyard and stakeholders to make sure the enforcement of the court order.
2.Case-specific measures were taken to help resolve dispute
Since the party standing in the way of the ship towing was not the shipyard but rather the stakeholders at the locality where the shipyard was located, and, considering that the ships had not yet finished and part of their hull had become rusted, it was not feasible to tow away the ships instantly. The handling judges thus decided that the applicants would repair the ships to make them seaworthy, and by posting an enforcement announcement on the site, the judges also notified the stakeholders that the court would supervise and support the applicants to repair and tow the ships away from the shipyard.
3.Well-planned action to ensure successful enforcement
The repair of the ships was carried out intermittently due to the Spring Festival and the outbreak of COVID-19, and it finally finished until recently and passed the acceptance check. Our judges surveyed the sites and the conditions of the boats for several times to understand the precautions and potential risks for ship shifting, and finally worked out a detailed implementation plan by taking into account of tide conditions. According to the tide table, high tide would come around on June 6 &7 (Saturday and Sunday), a favorable time for the launch of ships, and slack water came between 1100hrs to 1200hrs at noon. To ensure successful enforcement, all the personnel taking part in this action gave up their weekend rest and even arrived at the site ahead of time to work under a 40℃ high temperate for two days.
4.Joint efforts from many sides
This enforcement action not only mobilized more than forty judges and bailiffs from multiple divisions of the Court, but also solicited police force and technical support from many sides. During the enforcement, the police was responsible to follow up the existing case and the fishery administration witnessed the launch, both providing solid support for the applicants. As the boats finally took water, both the enforcement assisting units and the applicants felt satisfied with the successful enforcement.