According to a lawyer representing the owner of a container ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March, the Canal Authority was at fault over its grounding. The Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, became jammed across the canal in high winds on March 23, remaining grounded for six days, blocking traffic in both directions and disrupting global trade. The vessel has since been held in a lake between two stretches of the canal as the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) pursues a $916.5 million claim against Japanese owner Shoei Kisen.
An appeals chamber at Ismailia Economic Court held hearings on Saturday over the ship's detention; the SCA is seeking to uphold this, following an appeal by the owner, as well as the SCA's financial claim.
Lawyers representing Shoei Kisen argued that the SCA had been at fault for allowing the ship to enter the waterway amid bad weather. Ahmed Abu Ali, one of the legal team, has also stated that the Authority failed to prove any fault by the ship.
Recordings from the ship that were presented to the court showed disagreements between SCA pilots and its control centre over whether it should enter the canal, Abu Ali said. Lawyers for Shoei Kisen said the ship should have been accompanied by at least two tug boats suitable for the ship's size, but they did not materialize. The SCA has not yet responded to requests for comment, but it has publicly denied being at fault.
Lawyers for Shoei Kisen also argued that the Ever Given's detention was legally flawed and that the work to release the ship was not "a salvage (operation) in the proper legal sense", meaning the SCA could not seek compensation for such an operation, Abu Ali said.