Suez Canal Crisis Freighter Now Legally Stranded Amid Compensation Claim
The freighter that blocked the Suez Canal, delaying global shipping, is stranded again, according to a law firm fighting to help its client unload impounded containers.
Egyptian authorities have arrested the Ever Given and demanded US $ 550 million (£ 395 million) in compensation from the owners of the ship Shoei Kisen Kaisha, following the operation to free the huge vessel that s ‘ran aground in March.
Jai Sharma, partner and cargo accident manager at law firm Clyde & Co, wrote an open letter to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) seeking to resolve the dispute on behalf of his company’s clients.
He wrote: “We represent insurers with over 100 million ($) of freight on board. Some of this cargo is urgent and the delay is causing numerous losses of cargo receivers and operational difficulties at a time when many companies are under pressure from the pandemic. “
Mr Sharma added: “While we understand that the SCA has informally reduced its request to $ 550 million from the original $ 916 million, in our view this remains an excessively excessive sum for the services rendered and losses claimed by SCA. “
The Ever Given was carrying around $ 700 million (£ 500 million) in cargo between Asia and Europe when it ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23.
The maritime crisis clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and the ship was eventually freed by rescue teams six days later.
The last in a series of court hearings is scheduled for Sunday, but Mr Sharma does not think it is likely that a conclusion will be reached at that time, and discussions are expected to continue between the parties.
It is understood that $ 150 million was offered to settle the claim, but the SCA is still claiming $ 550 million.
Speaking to the PA News Agency, Mr Sharma said the amount of the claim was “unprecedented”, adding: “It is much, much more than a factor of ten or twenty than we are. We waited.
“I think people are willing to pay a reasonable amount and they are even willing to pay more than a reasonable amount just to solve it, but we think these are multiples of an unreasonable amount.”
The Ever Given carries approximately 18,000 shipping containers filled with a range of items from summer products like barbecues, swimwear and lounge chairs to limited shelf life items like bamboo shoots, tofu and lemons.
She is moored in the Great Amer Lake which is part of the Suez Canal with her crew still on board.
The UK Club, one of the Ever Given insurers, said in a statement posted on its website: “The UK Club reports that, upon authorization by the owner and with the other insurers of the vessel, it is currently engaged in serious and constructive negotiations with the Suez Canal Authority regarding the Authority’s claim arising from the Ever Given grounding, and hopes for a positive resolution of these negotiations in the near future.
The Suez Canal Authority has been contacted for comment.