Court delays hearing in Suez Canal case as sides seek compensation deal

Court delays hearing in Suez Canal case as sides seek compensation deal
Postponement comes after Suez Canal Authority lowers demand for compensation fee

'N Egyptian court has postponed a hearing in a compensation case filed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) against the owners of the Ever Given container ship in order to allow more time for the sides to negotiate a deal over the canal crisis that disrupted global trade earlier this year.

The vessel, which is one of the world’s largest container ships, blocked the canal for six days, halting traffic in both directions, after it became jammed on 23 March in high winds.

The SCA had initially demanded $916m (£647m) in compensation from the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen for disruption caused by the blockage.

Egter, the authority said earlier this week that it would be willing to accept $550m, provided that $200m is paid in advance with the remaining amount payable through letters of credit.

Osama Rabie, the SCA’s chairman, said Shoei Kisen had so far offered to pay just $150m in compensation.

The Ever Given has been detained by court order and held in a lake between two stretches of the canal while the compensation case takes place.

Op Saterdag, a lawyer representing the Ever Given’s owner said that the two sides had asked for the latest hearing to be postponed to allow for further negotiations, while the SCA said on Facebook that the hearing would now take place on 20 Junie.

“The two parties have requested the delay, and we have not yet determined any amount for compensation, and this will be done after holding several new negotiations sessions with the Suez Canal,” the lawyer told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

The postponement came after Mr Rabie said that the container ship had been struggling to steer in the canal in March due to its high speed and the size of its rudder, adding that it could have chosen not to enter the waterway in bad weather.

'[The captain] knows the capabilities of his shipso he can come and say, ‘I don’t want to enter, I feel the weather is not appropriate,’” the SCA chairman said on Thursday.

He added that the vessel was travelling at about 25km per hour before it became grounded, far above the 8-9km per hour speed that is appropriate for the canal.

Egter, Shoei Kisen’s legal team has argued that the SCA was at fault for allowing the vessel to enter and not providing tug boats.

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