CAIRO – 23 May 2021: Egypt’s Ismailia Economic Court rejected on Sunday an appeal filed by the owners of the stranded Panama-flagged Ever Given vessel in the Suez Canal to release the ship, while in the same hearing session, the court recused itself from the consideration of another case filed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
As for the first case No. 35 of the year (14 s), the court upheld a ruling issued by the Ismailia Court of First Instance on May 4, rejecting the appeal made by the owners of the ship (Shoei Kisen Kaisha) against keeping the ship under arrest. The Ismailia Economic Court did not reveal the reasons for its today’s rejection yet.
On March 23, 2021, the Ever Given ship went aground in the 151 km of the Suez Canal, where the vessels in both directions pass, causing the suspension of the international maritime navigation through the canal for six days. After it was freed on March 29, the ship was escorted to the Bitter Lakes for technical inspection, crew interrogation, and black box analysis.
Egypt has asked for $916 million in compensation for damages caused by the grounding of the ship, the salvage operation, and for loss of reputation. The situation complicated when an economic court in Ismailia governorate issued on April 13, 2021 a decision to officially arrest the ship until paying compensation. Later, the owners filed an appeal before the Ismailia court of the first instance against a decision of arresting the ship and her cargo. However, the court rejected the appeal on May 4.
In the second case No. 23 of the year (14 s) that was filed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) to keep the seizure of the ship valid, the same Ismailia Economic Court recused itself from this case, without revealing the reasons of its decision. Therefore, it referred this case to the Economic Court of First Instance to be considered on May 29, according to statements from the SCA on Sunday.
A lawyer representing the owner of the ship told Reuters that the SCA was at fault when it allowed the ship to enter the canal course in bad weather and there was an argument between the SCA pilots, who were on the board of the ship when the accident occurred, and the SCA control over the ship’s passing through the canal or not. Lawyer, Ahmed Abu Ali, added that the Ever Given should be escorted by two giant tugboats, but this did not happen, noting that the shipowner asked for paying “$100,000 in initial compensation for losses related to its detention.”, he said.
In response to these remarks, the SCA said on Sunday in a statement that the SCA lawyer at the court hearing that was held on Saturday that stated that Egyptian Maritime Law No. 8 of 1990 in Articles 282 to 290 stipulate that the vessel remains under the leadership of her captain during its transit through the Suez Canal. The lawyer added that the SCA pilots’ decisions are not obligatory.
The SCA lawyer also refuted requests submitted by the owners of the containers on board the stranded ship to participate in the case. The Authority’s lawyer also refuted the shipowner‘s offer of paying the initial compensation.
As for the legal grounds that the Authority relies on in reclaiming the $916 million compensation, the statement said it comes as stipulated in Article 305 of the Egyptian Maritime Law No. 8 of 1990, which gives the right to receive fair compensation for anyone who performs any rescue work, adding that the salvage claim is one of the elements of the compensation value demanded by the authority.
The authority revealed that losses caused by the accident resulted in sinking a reuse boat and the death of one of the employees who participants in the salvage operation, besides the other material and moral damages to the reputation of the Suez Canal.