The claimant brokers, POC, advanced claims for damages, originally in excess of US$100 million, for lost brokerage commissions arising from the early termination by Unipec Asia of a long term contract of affreightment with Tankers International LLC (“TI”). POC, who acted as TI’s brokers claimed that both Unipec UK and Unipec Asia, subsidiaries of Unipec, the Beijing-based petrochemical giant and part of the SINOPEC group, were liable in tortious conspiracy and interference with contractual relations under New Jersey law and that Unipec Asia was liable under an implied contract with the broker as a matter of New Jersey law. Mrs Justice Carr dismissed the claims against both defendants in their entirety.
The decision addresses interesting issues concerning the relationship between shipbrokers and their principals, as well as important questions relating to the proper approach to choice of law issues under both the Rome I and Rome II Regulations.
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