New guidance on refund guarantees and signing by SWIFT

27 Фев

Недавнее решение английского суда проливает свет на природу гарантии по судостроительному контракту, в частности, судом было признано, что была выдана прямая гарантия по требованию. Судья Блэр разрешил также еще один интересный вопрос, который был поднят впервые за время существования системы SWIFT, а именно: подпись в этой системе эквивалентна личной подписи.

Stephenson Harwood recently achieved an important victory for the Vroon Shipping Group in a dispute with providers of refund guarantees relating to shipbuilding contracts (WS Tankship II BV v (1) The Kwangju Bank Ltd (2) Seoul Guarantee Insurance Company). Vroon sought repayment under the refund guarantees following termination of the contracts on the grounds of delay in delivery, but the defendant financial institutions deployed a number of defences to Vroon’s claims. The Court was not persuaded, however, and Mr Justice Blair found in Vroon’s favour on each issue of fact and law.

This decision is significant for the wider legal and maritime community as it decided upon issues some of which have remained unresolved for many years.

The first issue was whether the refund guarantees were ‘on demand’ or ‘see to it’. Mr Justice Blair concluded that the guarantees were ‘on demand’ and in doing so provided invaluable guidance as to the principles involved.

The second issue of general importance addressed by Mr Justice Blair was whether SWIFT-generated guarantees are to be regarded as validly «signed» for the purposes of the Statute of Frauds 1677. He concluded that as a matter of common sense, authentication by sending is equivalent in modern times to authentication by signing and is sufficient for the purposes of the statute.

These comments will have considerable impact. The SWIFT system has been around for nearly 40 years, yet this is the first Court decision which has specifically both addressed and determined the issue of whether SWIFT-generated guarantees are compliant with the Statute of Frauds. Mr Justice Blair’s modern interpretation of an ageing statute will be widely welcomed.


Duncan McDonald
T: +44 (0)20 7809 2629



Stephenson Harwood

Marine and international trade briefing note

February, 2012