Jiangxi Provincial Metal and Minerals Import and Export Corp. v. Sulanser Co., Ltd.
Hong Kong Supreme Court
21 Y.B. Comm. Arb. 546 (1996)
Jiangxi Provincial Metal and Minerals Import and Export Corp. (Jiangxi) (plaintiff) agreed to sell cement to Sulanser Company, Ltd. (defendant). The agreement was put into writing but never signed by the parties. The agreement included an arbitration clause for arbitration to be conducted at the China International Economic Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). Jiangxi attributed a shipment delay to Sulanser and filed an action for compensation against Sulanser in the Wuhan Admiralty Court. Sulanser argued that the court did not have jurisdiction because of the arbitration clause. In support of its argument, Sulanser sent a written letter to the court invoking arbitration and had attorneys submit another written document explaining why the contract mandated arbitration. Jiangxi then requested arbitration by CIETAC, the admiralty court declined jurisdiction, and the dispute was referred to CIETAC. Once the arbitration procedures began, Sulanser objected to CIETAC’s jurisdiction, arguing the arbitration clause was invalid for lack of a sufficient agreement in writing. CIETAC determined that it did have jurisdiction because the arbitration clause was binding and Sulanser had admitted that it was binding in the written documents submitted to the admiralty court. CIETAC issued a final award in favor of Jiangxi. The Hong Kong Supreme Court granted Jiangxi an order for leave to enforce the award. Sulanser sought to set aside the order on the ground that the arbitration agreement was invalid because it was not agreed to in writing. Sulanser argued that letters had to be exchanged between the parties to constitute a written agreement to arbitrate, and therefore the letters sent by and on behalf of Sulanser to the admiralty court were insufficient.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning ()
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