case law

id : 20105

id: 20105

Polish Supreme Court order

dated 22 April 1966

Case No. I CR 433/64

Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:

The Polish foreign trade centre hired a Czechoslovakian shipping company to deliver rice from the port at Savona, Italy, to the port at Gdynia, Poland. At the destination, the cargo was found to be damaged and short. A Polish insurance company covered the loss and then asserted a subrogation claim before the Gdańsk Province Court for the amount of the loss against the Czechoslovakian shipping company.

The defendant moved to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the Polish state courts had no jurisdiction, because under a treaty between Czechoslovakia and Poland, disputes between entities from the two countries involving maritime shipments were required to be submitted to arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration in Gdynia, and in this case under each bill of lading disputes were to be decided in Denmark under Danish law and the Hague Rules.

The province court dismissed the case, holding that the disputes were subject to the jurisdiction of the Danish courts.

The plaintiff sought review by the Polish Supreme Court. The court held that because the Polish foreign trade centre, as the charterer, was a party to the charter party with the defendant, as the ship-owner, the charter party was the basis for their legal relationship, rather than the bills of lading, and thus the clause in the bills of lading calling for dispute resolution in Denmark did not apply. The treaty between Poland and Czechoslovakia required the parties to conclude a clause calling for arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration in Gdynia, but as they failed to do so there was no arbitration clause in force. Consequently, the Polish state court had jurisdiction, and the Polish Supreme Court vacated the order below and remanded the case to the Gdańsk Province Court.

Excerpt from the text of the court’s ruling:

The wording of §14 of the Transport Protocol on Polish-Czechoslovakian Cooperation for 1961, “When entering into any agreements, ... the interested enterprises ... shall stipulate the jurisdiction of the International Court of Arbitration in Gdynia for resolution of any possible disputes,” does not justify the conclusion that this provision submits all such future disputes identified therein to resolution by the arbitration court.

Section 14, as its wording indicates, only imposes on the enterprises of both of the contracting states the duty to include arbitration clauses in the agreements they conclude, and thus the position taken in the order appealed from is correct, that because the charter party binding on the parties does not contain such clause, this dispute is subject to the jurisdiction of the common court.

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