TWENTY TWO YEARS IN TAIWAN
ITIC has just concluded its oldest case.
This involved a ship agent in Taiwan, who acted for the call of a tanker at Kaohsiung in 1982.
Part of the ship’s cargo – 500 metric tonnes of Toluene Di- Isocyanate (TDI) - was discharged into a bonded shore tank awaiting delivery against production of the original bill of lading. In the event, the consignee managed to siphon off the cargo from the tank without producing the bill of lading and without paying for the goods. A Taiwanese bank commenced legal action in the Kaohsiung High Court against the tanker owner and the agent for US$560,000, the value of the cargo because, in Taiwan, the local agent for a foreign company has joint and several liability with the foreign company.
The High Court initially found in favour of the owner and agent, and the bank appealed to the Supreme Court of Taiwan. There followed an extraordinary period spanning more than twenty years where the case was referred back and forth between the High Court and the Supreme Court on procedural grounds no less than six times. It was not until the end of 2004 that the Supreme Court of Taiwan finally rejected the bank’s appeal. The agent had won the case with the assistance of ITIC, but the legal costs were in excess of US$90,000.