Egypt’s Chamber Court Refers Suez Canal Claim To Lower Court, Ship Not Allowed To Leave
The Suez Canal Authority’s compensation claim on the Ever Given grounding issue and consequent seizure of the ship and the crew have been referred to a lower court by the Egyptian Chamber court which has claimed that they don’t have the jurisdiction to look into the matters of the Canal Authority and uphold the claim.
Incidentally, the Ever Given ship chartered by the Taiwanese carrier Evergreen and owned by the Japanese shipping company Shoei Kisen Kaisha had run aground in the Suez Canal back on March 23rd and was refloated on 29th March.
The SCA had demanded 916$ million as compensation which they have reduced to 600$ million but the owners aren’t satisfied. The SCA has held the ship and its crew ransom for compensation.
Now, the Chamber of the Ismailia Economic Court has referred the case to a lower court citing the lack of jurisdiction authority on the case.
The chamber court has asked the lower court to decide whether holding the ship and the crew for ransom is legal and what should be the legal procedure for it.
The SCA has defended the claim citing the death of a salvage team worker and the damage done to a salvage boat that capsized while attempting to refloat Ever Given. This is the first time the SCA has made any accounts of the losses and damages public.
The compensation claim has in it the loss of transit fees and salvage operation costs.
Earlier the ship’s management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement had refuted the claims saying that such an extraordinary amount needs to be backed by evidence and data which the SCA has failed to furnish.
The SCA on the other hand has said that they have provided all the details and documentation of salvage operation and won’t be giving any details further. The next hearing of the case has been deferred to May 29 after the Chamber Court referred it to the local court.
The Chamber court has also rejected the appeal made by the shipowner Shoei Kisen which had appealed against an earlier ruling of a lower court upholding the SCA’s decision to hold the ship ransom for compensation.
The lawyers of the ship owners have accused the SCA for the ship’s grounding citing that the SCA hasn’t provided any evidence that spells the ship’s crew’s fault. Furthermore, the SCA has been blamed for allowing the vessel to run in bad weather.
The charterer Evergreen echoed the same sentiments when they underlined how the ship had to brave the strong winds when it entered the canal.
Lawyers further highlighted a conversation between canal pilots and control centres from the ship’s black box that provided ample evidence that the canal authorities weren’t sure whether the ship should be sailing or not. 2 canal pilots have been guiding the vessel onboard as it crossed the waterway and when the grounding happened.
The Canal Authority has made it clear once again that the ship captain is responsible for making the decision and not the canal pilots who are only there to guide.
Meanwhile, the shipowner has claimed a 100,000$ initial compensation for the vessel’s seizure and detention by the authorities.