The Transfer of Ship Ownership under Chinese Law
Created on:2024-01-03 20:03 PV:614
By Fu Tingzhong & Yu Junda | Article | 16 Tsinghua China L. Rev. 1 (2023)   |   Download Full Article PDF


There has been ongoing controversy regarding the rationality of Chinese special registration antagonism rule for the transfer of ship ownership. Draw upon the summary of legislative history, relevant cases, and academic theories, this paper adopts a positive stance towards the special transfer rule, asserting its alignment with the demands of reality. First, the transfer of ship ownership follows the parties’ agreement. If there is no agreement on when the ship ownership will be transferred, the ship ownership will be transferred after delivery. Delivery is the default rule for the transfer of ship ownership. Second, regarding selling the same ship to multiple parties, since the registration in this situation is unqualified, the person who complete the delivery can act against the person who completed the registration. Third, both possession and registration are the methods of publication, however, only registration could be a credible publication method of ship ownership. Fourth, since parties can obtain ship ownership without registration, ship ownership registration has relatively weak credibility, which creates a rebuttable presumption of ship ownership. If parties cannot persuade the judge that they are the shipowner, judges will adopt the information recorded in the registration. However, registered information may also be overridden based on evidence presented by the parties.

Key Words: Transfer of Ship Ownership; Ship Ownership Registration; Ship Ownership; Maritime Law