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Court says maritime disputes rising again

Shanghai Maritime Court accepted 1,425 cases related to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone in the past five years, according to a white paper released by the court.

After a significant surge in 2015 and 2016, the number of such cases had declined over the following two years. Last year there was a small increase, which may have been related to the newly launched Lingang Special Area in the zone, said Wang Tong, head of the court.

Most of the cases were disputes over maritime freight forwarding contracts and contracts of carriage by sea, accounting for 41 and 32 percent respectively.

The court found disputes in connection with logistics-related e-commerce platforms were rising.

There were 42 arbitration cases with 18 involving parties from Hong Kong or foreign countries.

The court had received just 21 cases related to the cruise industry since 2015, covering aspects such as security, ticketing, leasing, berth charges, insurance and labor disputes.

In one case, a woman brought Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and a Zhejiang-based travel agency to court after she fell and was injured on a "Quantum" cruise.

The woman, Jiang, and her husband had booked a five-day cruise from Shanghai to Okinawa at the travel agency.

Jiang tripped on a drizzly morning when trying to get into her cabin.

She claimed the cabin floor was wet and slippery and that the travel agency and cruise operator should be held liable.

The court said Royal Caribbean had taken measures to prevent wet floors by, for example, placing water-absorbing mats and setting dryers to dry the deck. As an adult, Jiang should have been aware of the risks brought about by rainy weather and taken more care.

However, it also thought Royal Caribbean could do more, such as setting warning signs or using carpets to reduce such risks. It said Royal Caribbean should take 20 percent of the responsibility and pay Jiang compensation.