Court allows Suez Canal to keep holding Ever Given, lawyers say

FILE PHOTO: 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/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

(Reuters)


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CAIRO (Reuters) — An Egyptian court on Sunday rejected a complaint by the Japanese owner of a container ship that blocked traffic in the Suez Canal for six days in March against the vessel's continued detention by canal authorities, a lawyer said.

The Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, became jammed across the canal in high winds on March 23, halting traffic in both directions and disrupting global trade.

The complaint was attached to a case at the economic appeals court in Ismailia in which the Suez Canal Authority is seeking $916 million in compensation from the Ever Given's owner Shoei Kisen over the blockage and the operation to free the ship.

The court on Sunday referred the case back to a court of first instance, which is due to consider it on May 29, said Ahmed Abu Ali, one of the lawyers representing the owner.

Any ruling made by the lower court could trigger appeals by either side, said another lawyer on the case, Ahmed Abu Shanab, indicating that legal wrangling could drag on.

In a statement following Sunday's ruling the SCA said it bore no responsibility for the Ever Given's grounding, reasserting that responsibility lay with the ship's captain alone, and rebutting arguments made a day before by Shoei Kisen's legal team.

It also defended its $916 million claim, citing the costs of freeing the ship and a salvage bonus stipulated in maritime law, material and reputational damage, and the diversion of some shipping away from the canal.

One boat sank during the operation to free the ship, resulting in the death of a worker, the SCA said.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Yusri Mohamed; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by David Goodman and Jan Harvey)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021

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