On November 27, 2017 and January 31, 2018, the plaintiff Italy International Import and Export Co., Ltd. (“the International Company”) signed two sales and purchase contracts with Zhongxing Metal Company, a party outside the case, about the purchase of 50 tons of copper wire scraps by the International Company. Zhongxing Metal Company issued proforma invoices numbered ZX171129 and ZX2018013102. The International Company paid the contract price. On March 5, 2018, Shipping Insurance Operation Center of China Pacific Property Insurance Co., Ltd. (“CPIC Operation Center”) and China Pacific Property Insurance Co., Ltd. (“CPIC”) issued a cargo transport insurance policy numbered AHYXH0124218Q029136C, stating that the insured was the International Company, the insurance value of USD 300,000, the insurance covered all risks, the sailing date should be the date stated in the bill of lading, the transportation means was the Ship EASLINE NINGBO on the 1810E voyage, the transport route was from Tianjin, China to Genoa, Italy, the cargos were copper wire, the container number was TCKU1333075/TCLU3412329, the bill of lading number was KKLUTSN398874, and the deductible amount was USD 200 or 10% of the loss, whichever was higher. According to the insurance policy, this insurance policy bears the “warehouse-to-warehouse” liability. In other words, the insurance takes effect from the departure of the insured goods from the warehouse or storage stated in the insurance policy, covers sea, land, inland water and barge transport during normal transportation processes, and lasts until the goods arrive at the final warehouse or storage of the consignee at the destination stated in the insurance policy or other storage place used by the insured for distribution, dispatch or irregular transport of goods.
The goods involved in the case were packed, counted, sealed and transported to the carrier’s yard by the shipper Zhongxing Metal Company itself. On February 27, 2018, SGS inspectors participated in the packing process of the goods under the proforma invoice numbered ZX171129, and issued an inspection report stating that the shipper loaded 14 pallets of copper wire scraps in the handover warehouse in Daye, and no abnormalities were found during the loading process. After loading of the cargo, the shipper applied a lead seal numbered TAP35853, and the container involved was stored in the depot of the handover warehouse in Daye. On March 5, 2018, the shipper transported the two containers involved in the case to the carrier’s yard of Tianjin Port Terminal Company. The gross weight of the cargo was 47 tons, and the net weight was 29.6 tons after deducting the vehicle weight of 13 tons and the weight of the two containers (2.2 tons each). After receiving the goods, the carrier issued the bill of lading numbered KKLUTSN398874, stating that the shipper was Zhongxing Metal Company, the consignee was the International Company, the vessel and voyage was the 1810E voyage of the ship EASLINE NINGBO, the port of shipment was Tianjin, China, the port of unloading was Genoa, Italy, the cargo was copper wire loaded in two 20-feet containers numbered TCKU1333075 and TCLU3412329, and the lead seal numbers were TAP35852 and TAP35853.
On April 13, 2018, the ship EASLINE NINGBO arrived at Genoa Port, Italy for unloading. After customs inspection, it was found that the containers concerned were loaded with bricks instead of the copper wire scraps as agreed in the contract, and the lead seal numbers of the containers were changed to 007223 and 007225. A total of EUR14,146 was incurred during the inspection and inspection process at the port of unloading. As the International Company failed to pick up the goods, it filed an insurance claim with the defendant, and the defendant refused to pay the insurance compensation.
Tianjin Maritime Court made the judgment that the claims of the plaintiff Italy International Import and Export Co., Ltd. were rejected.
This case is a maritime insurance contract dispute due to secret replacement of cargo during maritime cargo transport involving the “Belt and Road” initiative. In this case, as international shipping involves many processes such as shipping by the seller, tallying by freight forwarding agency, short-distance transport, and port collection, it is impossible to find out where the secret replacement of cargo occurred. Thus, the Italian cargo owner sued the insurance company in accordance with the insurance contract. After investigating the changes in the weight of the cargo at various major points during the container transport, the Court determined that the replacement of the cargo occurred before its transport to port in accordance with the principle of high probability of civil litigation, and excluded the insurance liability period and the liability of the insurer.
In this case, the starting and ending points of the “warehouse-to-warehouse” clause of the insurance contract are defined, and the insurance liability period is determined to be the land transport period from the yard of the loading forwarder to the port, but the container loading period in the yard of the loading forwarder does not belong to the insurance period. The trial of the case has a reference significance.