File- Ever Given ship near to the Mashhour dredge at the Suez Canal to refloat the Ever Given- Press photo from the Suez Canal Authority
CAIRO - 20 June 2021: The Ismailia Economic Court of First Instance on Sunday adjourned a hearing of a lawsuit filed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) to uphold a decision of arresting the stranded Panamanian container ship EVER GIVEN, which ran aground in the Suez Canal in March, to July 4, 2021, to allow further settlement discussions to take place between the authority and the shipowners.
The lawyers representing both parties asked the court jury for further time to reach a final agreement after the shipowners made an offer described as “reasonable” by the authority’s defense committee members.
The MV EVER GIVEN went aground on March 23, 2021, in the 151st km of the Suez Canal, where vessels pass in both directions, 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. Afterward, an Egyptian economic court in Ismailia issued a decision to seize the ship at the canal until paying compensation for damages it caused due to the grounding, besides the costs of the salvage operation.
“Over the course of more than 15 days, in extended, long and arduous, but positive working sessions, the UK Club together with the ship’s other insurers have been engaged in negotiations with the committee assigned by the Suez Canal Authority on the grounding incident of Ever Given,” said the insurance UK&I insurance club in a statement on Sunday.
“We agreed that the details of such negotiations would remain confidential. During the negotiations, a proposal was submitted that we believe satisfies all the requirements of the SCA. Accordingly, the owners and their insurers requested and confirmed to the Ismailia Economic Court of First Instance in today's hearing (Sunday, June 20, 2021) their clear desire to adjourn the hearing in order to take the necessary time to reach a final and amicable solution that satisfies all parties,” the club added.
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.
SCA lawyer Nabil Zidan clarified in a press conference on May 30 that there are two legal cases regarding the decision of the arrest of the ship. "The first lawsuit filed by the Suez Canal Authority to judicially uphold the seizure decision," he said, noting that the Ismailia Economic Court recused itself from considering this case on May 23 and referred it to the Ismailia Court of the First Instance, which adjourned the case to June 20.
"Meanwhile, the second lawsuit filed by the shipowner Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha was a grievance against the decision of putting the ship under arrest until paying the required compensation," he added. The court rejected the grievance.
In the beginning, Egypt estimated the compensation value at $916 million, which has been reduced to $600 million. However, SCA Chairperson Admiral Osama Rabie stated previously in a phone-in that the Japanese Company wants to reduce the compensation sum from $600 million to $150 million.
In his meeting with Panamanian Ambassador to Egypt Alejandro Gante and Director General of the Panamanian Maritime Authority Rafael Cigarruista on May 25, Chief of the Suez Canal Authority Admiral Rabie said that the authority has provided facilities, revealing that “the value of the compensation requested by the authority is about $550 million, provided that $200 million shall be paid in advance, while the remaining $350 million are paid as letters of guarantee issued by an ‘A class’ bank in Egypt.”
Additional reporting by Samar Samir