An Egyptian appeals court said on Sunday it had no jurisdiction to consider requests from the Suez Canal Authority to uphold the financial claims that led to the seizure of the massive vessel Ever Given after it blocked the waterway in March.
The authority and the shipowner are at odds over who is to blame if the ship ran aground in the canal connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea – and the amount of compensation to be paid.
THE SUEZ CANAL SHIP TEAM CELEBRATES IN VIDEO AFTER EVER GIVEN IS RELEASED
The appeals chamber of the Ismailia Economic Court referred the case to a lower court to rule on the legality of the seizure of Ever Given until the settlement of the compensation claim between the Suez Canal Authority and Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Japanese owner of the vessel, according to Hazem Barakat, a lawyer representing the owner of the vessel.
The Ever Given was en route to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 when it struck the shore of a single track stretch of the canal about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the town of Suez.
A massive effort by a tug flotilla, aided by the tides, freed the skyscraper-sized ship six days later, ending the crisis and allowing hundreds of waiting ships to cross the channel. The Suez Canal Authority revealed for the first time on Sunday that a rescue boat capsized during the operation, leaving a worker dead.
Since its release, the Panamanian-flagged vessel, which transports goods between Asia and Europe, has been ordered by authorities to remain in a reservoir in the middle of the canal while its owner and the authority of the channel are trying to settle the compensation dispute.
As a first step, the Suez Canal Authority demanded compensation of $ 916 million, which was later reduced to $ 600 million, said the head of the canal authority, Lt. General Oussama Rabie, in comments on a TV show earlier this month.
The amount of compensation would take into account the rescue operation, the costs of blocked channel traffic and lost transit fees for the week Ever Given blocked the channel.
The ship’s technical management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement, said in April that the Suez Canal Authority had failed to provide a detailed justification for the compensation claim, calling it “extraordinarily important”.
The Suez Canal Authority said it had provided documents detailing the amount of compensation. He did not provide further details.
Barakat, the lawyer, said the next court hearing on the case would take place on May 29.
In a separate lawsuit, the appeals chamber dismissed the appeal of Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. against a decision of a lower court to bind the vessel until the financial dispute is resolved.
Lawyers representing the ship’s owners on Saturday blamed the canal authorities for the grounding of the ship, saying the canal authorities had not provided evidence blaming the ship’s crew. They also argued that the canal administration should not have allowed the vessel to navigate the waterway in bad weather.
Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the vessel, said the Ever Given was defeated by high winds as it entered the channel from the Red Sea.
Barakat said the voyage data recorder, also known as a ship’s black box, recorded a debate between the canal’s pilots and its control center over whether it should be cleared. to cross the canal. There were two Canal Authority pilots on board the vessel to guide it when the grounding occurred.
Barakat also confirmed that the ship’s owners, for their part, demanded $ 100,000 in initial compensation for losses related to its seizure.
The channel has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He said in a statement on Sunday that while his pilots usually board ships to guide them through the waterway, the ship’s captain retains ultimate authority over the ship and the pilots’ role is advisory.
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The six-day blockade disrupted global shipping. Some ships were forced to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope to the southern tip of Africa, requiring additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships were waiting there for the blockage to end.
About 10% of world trade passes through the channel, a key source of foreign exchange to Egypt. Some 19,000 ships crossed the canal last year, according to official figures.