Egyptian court says has no jurisdiction to look into appeal against impounding Ever Given

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 23 May 2021

The ruling allows the SCA to keep impounding the vessel

Ever Given
Ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen after it was fully floated in Suez Canal, Egypt March 29, 2021. REUTERS

An Egyptian court ruled on Sunday that hearing an appeal against the impounding of the Ever Given ship, which had blocked Egypt's Suez Canal in March, does not fall within its jurisdiction.

The Ismailia Economic Court had ordered in April the mega-ship be impounded over financial disputes linked to a $916 compensation claim made by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) over the losses incurred due to the nearly week-long blockage.

Shoei Kisen, the ship owner, filed an appeal against the impounding order with the court.

Under the Egyptian legal system, such appeals are usually examined by economic appeals courts, not courts of the first instance such as Ismailia Economic Court.

The court 's appeals chamber also ordered on Sunday the referral of the case back to the district's court of first instance for consideration on 29 May.

Sunday's ruling allows the SCA to keep impounding the vessel.

The 400-metre-long ship had run aground across the canal on 23 March and was refloated on 29 March by a fleet of Egyptian tugboats and diggers, with the assistance of the tide.

The vessel, which is still loaded with thousands of cargo containers worth more than $3.5 billion, has since been anchored in a lake between two sections of the canal.

The incident caused a huge build-up of vessels after stopping traffic in both directions.

The SCA said the claimed compensation covers losses incurred from the six-day blockage and the cost of dislodging attempts.

Shoei Kisen argued that the SCA had been at fault for allowing the ship to enter the waterway amid bad weather, one of the lawyers representing the ship owner's legal team told Reuters.

It also said the dislodging efforts fall within the SCA's duties, claiming $100,000 in initial compensation for losses related to the impounding order.

The compensation claim has been recently reduced by the Egyptian authorities to almost $600 million, in order to free the vessel. However, the UK Club, an insurer of the mega-ship, said the amount was still "exceptionally large."

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