Egyptian court upholds detention of 'Ever Given' ship

Compensation claim over container ship that blocked Suez Canal referred back to lower court

The owner of the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days had its second appeal against the vessel's detention rejected by an Egyptian court on Sunday.

The Ever Given is now anchored in the Great Bitter Lake between two stretches of the canal pending a compensation claim from the canal authority.

Ahmed Abu Shanab, a member of the legal team representing Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha, told reporters the decision could not be appealed.

The Ismailia Economic Court also decided the compensation claim of hundreds of millions of dollars brought by the authority against the owner will be referred back to a lower court on May 29.

"The ruling…is a judgment that is consistent with Egyptian maritime trade law," Mohy El Alwany, a member of the defence team, told The National. "We are confident in the Egyptian judiciary and that it will issue a fair judgment that preserves the rights and interests of all parties."

The 400-metre Ever Given ran aground on March 23 in high winds and remained lodged across the canal for six days.

It blocked traffic for hundreds of ships in both directions in the vital waterway and disrupted global trade until a major salvage operation refloated it.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) had asked for $916 million in compensation to cover the loss of transit fees, damage to the waterway during the dredging and salvage efforts, and the cost of equipment and labour.

SCA chairman Osama Rabie later said the authority would accept $600m.

But UK P&I Club, which covers the ship's third-party liability insurance, said the amount is excessive.

Another member of the legal team representing Shoei Kisen told Reuters the canal authority was at fault over the ship’s grounding because it allowed it to enter the waterway amid bad weather.

Ahmed Abu Ali said the Ever Given should have been accompanied by at least two tug boats suitable for the ship’s size, “but this didn’t happen”.

He also said the release of the ship was not a salvage operation in the proper legal sense and was one of the authority’s duties according to the traffic contract.

The owner is demanding $100,000 in initial compensation from the authority for damage to the ship.

The canal authority said in a statement on Sunday that it refutes the claims based on the Egyptian Maritime Trade Law of 1990.

It cited articles 282 to 290, which state that the ship is under the captain’s leadership during its canal transit and is solely responsible for any damage. It also highlighted article 305, which gives the right to fair compensation to those who perform rescue work.

Earlier this month the authority, along with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, announced plans to widen and deepen parts of the canal to increase capacity from 49 vessels per day in 2014 to 97 vessels per day by 2023.

It hopes to increase canal revenue from $5.3 billion in 2014 to $13.2bn by 2023.

Updated: May 23, 2021 08:09 PM

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