BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Supreme People's Court (SPC) on Thursday ruled that Greek investment company Archangelos should pay 6.6 million yuan (1 million U.S. dollars) plus interest to a rescue bureau for having saved a stranded ship owned by the company in 2011.
An oil tanker ran aground near the Qiongzhou Strait in south China on Aug. 12, 2011 with 26 crew and 54,580 tonnes of crude oil on board. The stranded ship posed a severe threat to life, property and the environment.
Acting on the instructions of Archangelos, the Ministry of Transport's Nanhai Rescue Bureau launched rescue mission, but the tanker was towed out of danger by a third party.
Following the incident, the company refused to pay the bureau on the grounds that the two sides never reached any specific agreement on how to calculate the fee and that the amount claimed by the bureau was too high.
Guangzhou maritime court ruled in favor of the bureau and Guangdong Higher People's Court supported Archangelos on appeal. The bureau appealed to the SPC in 2015.
The court held that, as the International Convention on Salvage and China's Maritime Law allow parties involved to determine the rescue fees but offer no details on contracts, China's Contract Law should determine the rights and obligations of involved parties.
The two sides had a specific agreement that, regardless of the outcome of the rescue attempt, Archangelos should pay an amount based on the bureau's input of time, materials and manpower, the SPC statement said.
The court ruled that the company should pay 6.6 million yuan plus interest, less than the 7 million plus demanded in the first instance by the bureau.
The case is important in determining whether international conventions or domestic laws should be applied in similar rescue scenarios.