Dubai tribunal can hear claim against DP World Sokhna, judge rules

Sir Anthony gave DP World 28 days to respond to the claim made by Platinum Services, a logistics company. He also ordered DP World to pay $125,000 of Platinum’s legal bill.

A judge has ruled that a special tribunal in Dubai can hear a US$50 million legal claim against DP World from an Egyptian company that provided services to the port operator’s terminal near the Suez Canal in Egypt.

During a hearing yesterday, Sir Anthony Evans, the chairman of the Dubai World Tribunal at Dubai International Financial Centre, dismissed a submission by Clifford Chance, the law firm acting on behalf of the ports operator, that the Dubai World Tribunal was not the appropriate venue to handle the case. Clifford Chance had said the case should be heard in Egypt, where the dispute arose and where DP World’s subsidiary, DP World Sokhna, is based.

Sir Anthony gave DP World 28 days to respond to the claim made by Platinum Services, a logistics company. He also ordered DP World to pay $125,000 of Platinum’s legal bill.

In the claim lodged with the tribunal in March, Platinum alleged that the actions of DP World and DP World Sokhna combined to harm the company’s reputation after the expiry in January last year of Platinum’s contract to run catering and other ground services at the port. Platinum is seeking $50m in damages.

“There needs to be strong and compelling reasons why you shouldn’t hear this claim,” Henry Quinlan, a partner at DLP Piper, which is representing Platinum Services, told the tribunal during the hearing.

James Abbott, a partner at Clifford Chance, had earlier argued that the “centre of gravity of the disputes” was Egypt, not the UAE.

The allegations relate to early last year when the port was closed for several days as labour strikes disrupted shipments. DP World and Platinum Services each blame the other for instigating the unrest. Sokhna Port is one of DP World’s busiest ports, located on the Red Sea at the gateway of the trade link between East and West.

Separately, DP World has filed a court case in Egypt against Platinum, claiming its staff damaged DP World’s machinery and equipment and prevented DP World Sokhna’s staff from entering the port during the unrest.

Mr Abbott said there was a danger of “conflicting judgements” if cases in Egypt and Dubai were allowed to go ahead in parallel with each other.

The Dubai World Tribunal was set up in November 2009 under Decree 57 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the height of the crisis over debts at Dubai World, the government-owned conglomerate. It has enabled an independent forum for the settling of mainly financial disputes between Dubai World and its subsidiaries and third parties. DP World is majority owned by Dubai World.

tarnold@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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