Backdating of bill of lading
The carrier had to reimburse the bill of lading holder for the shortage of 35 containers.. The b/l may come in the hands of a person who is not the rightful holder and not entitled to take delivery of the goods.
Or a person presents a false b/l (better: a fictitious b/l or non-document) to the sea carrier.
MISC filed the suit before us in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on June 23, 2003, alleging that, when Sinochem petitioned the Chinese Admiralty Court for the Vessel's arrest, it negligently misrepresented "the [V]essel's fitness and suitability to load its cargo." MISC further alleged that: (1) "[w]ith a minimal amount of investigation, Sinochem knew or otherwise should have known whether its cargo of steel had been loaded aboard the [V]essel on or by April 30, 2003"; (2) "Sinochem knew or should have known that other cargo interests and charterers would reasonably and justifiably rely on Sinochem's representation(s) that the vessel had not loaded the cargo as required"; and (3) MISC had sustained damages "[d]ue to the fraudulent representations made by Sinochem and the resulting delay to the [Vessel] in the People's Republic of China caused by said representations...." On July 2, 2003, Sinochem filed a complaint with the Chinese Admiralty Court alleging that it had suffered damage due to MISC's alleged backdating of the bill of lading (which had triggered payment by Sinochem to Triorient under the letter of credit's terms).
Specifically, Sinochem alleged that May 1, 2003, should have been the loading date on the bill of lading.
This document also incorporated by reference a charter party--a contract between MISC and Pan Ocean regarding the Vessel.
The charter party here is not part of the record because Pan Ocean would not disclose its terms. An opinion of the Chinese court in the related proceeding, however, stated that English law governed disputes under the charter party. § 1782, regarding various aspects of the Vessel's loading, the charter party, and the bill of lading for use in an "imminent foreign proceeding." The District Court granted this limited discovery.
Sinochem's contract with Triorient specified that any dispute arising under it would be arbitrated under Chinese law. ("Novolog"), an American company also not a party to this action, to load the coils onto the Vessel at the Port of Philadelphia.
A Korean seller of folding ladders had bribed the carriers local agent in Korea, who issued bills of lading stating to have loaded on board 44 containers with folding ladders. The Supreme court attributed this fraud in the bill of lading to the carrier, such in light of the overriding principle in maritime law and in the interest of international trade, a third party bill of lading holder must be able to trust the correctness of it and be protected if it is not.The bill of lading listed Triorient as the shipper, Sinochem as the receiver, and Pan Ocean as the carrier.On the back of the bill of lading were "Conditions of Carriage" specifying that the Hague Rules applied to it.It reasoned further that the relevant "public interest" factor--the avoidance of unnecessary conflict-of-laws problems--also weighed in favor of dismissal because Chinese law would apply to MISC's negligent misrepresentation claim.In this context and because no American interests were implicated, the Court held that dismissal for forum non conveniens was appropriate despite the deference that must be paid to the plaintiff's (in this case MISC's) choice of forum.