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الغرامات في مصر: هل يمكن استرداد الغرامات والتعويضات التي يضطر ملاك السفن سدادها لتجنب تأخير مراكبهم؟

Posted on: August 3rd, 2021

في كثيــر من الأحيان قد تتعرض السفن لحوادث ملاحيــة أثناء رحلتها البحرية سواء كان ذلك أثناء إبحارها أو عبورها لأحد الممرات الملاحية أو أثناء قيامها بعمليات الشحن و التفريغ علي أرصفة الموانئ ، مما يترتب علي ذلك فرض غرامات / تعويضات علي السفينة نتيجة لإتهامها بالتورط  في هذا الحادث …

و قد تتخذ هذه الحوادث صور عدة مثل ” عوارية الأرصفة و المنشآت الثابتة بالميناء ، إتلاف الشمندورات ، التسبب في إحداث تلفيات لقاطرات الإرشــاد أو لنشات الرباط أو لأدواتها / ملحقاتها ، حوادث التلوث بكافة صورها ، الجنوح ، إتلاف أجزاء من الشعاب المرجانية و غيرها من الحوادث الأخري ” …

و تقوم الجهات الملاحية المختصة بفرض غرامات / أو تعويضــات علي السفينة المنسوب إليها الحادث وفقاً لما تقرره قوانين دولة الميناء و المعاهدات الدولية المنضمة إليها و اللوائح المنظمة …

كما تفرض الجهات الملاحية المختصة بفرض غرامات / أو تعويضات علي السفن التي تخالف التعليمات الملاحية و حتي إن لم يترتب علي ذلك وقوع حادث أو إحداث ضرر بالغير …

و بالطبع فإن كل سفينة قد إرتكبت خطأ و خالفت القانون و اللوائح المتبعة فإن عليها أن تقوم بسداد الغرامات و التعويضات المنصوص عليها قانوناً إعمالاً لسيادة القانون و ما تقتضيه قواعد حفظ الأمن و السلامة البحرية …

و لكــن قد تثــور إشكاليــة عند فرضيــة عدم إعتراف مجهزي السفينة بإرتكاب الواقعة / المخالفــة المنسوبة إليها ، أو تري بأن الغرامة المفروضة عليها لا تتناسب مع الواقعة أو أن التعويض المطلوب هو تعويض مغالي فيها مما تتحفظ معه علي السداد ، مما قد يعرضها للتحفظ أو المنع من السفر علي نحو ما يؤثــر سلباً علي مخططات السفينــة التجاريــة و يلحق بها خسائر متباينة من جراء توقفها مثل رســوم الموانئ طوال فترة توقف السفينــة فضلاً عن غرامات التأخير المتوقعة طوال فترة إستيقاف السفينة / منعها من السفر ….

وهو الأمــر الذي يضطر معه ملاك و مؤمني السفــن من سداد هذه الغرامات / التعويضات رغم قناعتهم بعدم إستحقاقها أو بالمغالاة في تقديرهــا علي أقـــل تقديــر …

و السؤال هنـــا …. هل يمكن أن يتم إسترداد هذه المبالغ أو جزء منهــا بعد أن يتم دراســة مدي إستحقاق هذه الغرامات / التعويضات بطريقة متأنية و بشكل موضوعي عادل ؟!

الإجابة في الحقيقــة هــي نعــم … ، لقد تناول القانون المدني المصري معالجــة هذه الفرضيــات من خلال إقامة دعوي قضائيــة ” برد غيــر المستحق ” و هي الدعوي القضائيــة المنظمة بأحكام المواد من 181 إلي 187 من القانون سالف البيــان … و في هذه الدعوي يتم تقديــم الأدلــة و الأسانيد إلي المحكمــة للتدليل علي عدم صحة تقديــر الغرامة / التعويــض منتهية إلي طلب الإسترداد الكلي أو الجزئي للمبالغ المدفوعة …

و بالرغــم من صعوبــة هذه الدعاوي القضائيــة بالنظر إلي أن الطرف المقابل فيها يكون في غالب الأحيــان هو إحدي الهيئات الحكومية إلا أن مكتبنا ” مكتب الديب ” إستطاع في الآونــة الأخيــرة أن يحقق عدة نجاحات في مثــل هذه النزاعات القضائيــة مستعيناً في ذلك بكلا من الفريقيــن الفني و القانونــي بالمكتــب و الذين عملا سوياً بشكــل متناغم و متجانس ليقدما أمام المحكمة دفاعاً قوياً مؤيداً بالحجج و الأسانيــد لنفي مسئولية ملاك السفـــن و ربابنها عن الحوادث / المخالفات التي تحصلت من أجلها الغرامات / التعويضات محل طلب الإسترداد …

و نذكر علي سبيــل المثــال نجاح مكتب الديب في الحصول علي أحكام قضائيــة نهائيــة لصالح كلا من ملاك السفينة المسمــاةMOL PRESENCE  ، و كذا ملاك السفينة MANDARIN TRADER و ذلك بإسترداد مبالغ تعويضات قد سبق و أن تم سدادها من جانب ملاك كلا من السفينتين إلي هيئة قنــاة السويس عن وقائع إدعاء بإتلاف ” شمندورات ” أثناء عبور هذه السفــن للمجري الملاحي … و تم تنفيذ هذه الأحكــام و رد المبالغ التي تجاوزت 100 ألف دولار أمريكي في كــل حالــة إلي ملاك كل سفينـــة …

لذا … ، فإن ” مكتب الديب ” على إستعداد تام للدفاع عن مصالح ملاك ومجهزي السفن ممن يتضررون من قيام بعض الجهات أو الهيئات بفرض غرامات أو مطالبتهم بسداد تعويضات عن وقائع أو مخالفات منسوبة إليهم – على خلاف الحقيقة – أو بفرض غرامات والمطالبة بتعويضات مغالى فيها وغير عادلة. فمكتب الديب – محامون يرحب بمباشرة طلبات الإسترداد في الحالات التي يرجـح فيها  شبهة المغالاة في تقديــر الغرامــة / التعويــض المفروض علي السفينــة و التي تم سدادها – مع التحفظ – في مقابل السمــاح للسفينة للإبحــار دون تأخيــر و ذلك لرد المبالغ التي تزيد عن التقدير القانوني العادل للغرامة / التعويــض ، مع عدم المساس بضرورة الحفاظ علي العلاقات الوديـــة مع جميــع الهيئات الملاحية و المصالح الحكومية التي يتعامل معها ملاك السفــن ووكلاؤهــم في مصــر .

REBATES and FINES in Egypt: Are Arbitrary Fines and Compensations Which Vessel Owners Are Obliged to Pay In Order To Avoid Delay Refundable?

Posted on: August 3rd, 2021

In many cases, vessels may be subject to navigational hazards during their sea voyages, whether while sailing or transiting a navigational channel or while carrying out loading and discharging operations berthed at ports. As a consequence, fines/compensations are imposed on the vessel for her involvement in such kind of incidents.

There are different types of hazards, including but not limited to damage to berths and fixed objects in the port, damage to buoys, damages to pilots’ tugboats or mooring boats and/or gears, pollution incidents, grounding, damaging parts of coral reefs and other accidents” …

Consequently, the competent authorities involved in the marine field shall impose fines/compensations on the vessel allegedly involved in the accident, pursuant to the port laws, international conventions acceded to as well as the relevant regulations.

The competent authorities shall also impose fines/compensations on vessels that violate navigational rules and guidelines, even in case no damage to third party resulted from such violation.

Indeed, each vessel which caused damage or has breached the applicable laws and regulations shall be bound to pay the fines and compensations imposed by the law, in application of the principle of Supremacy of the law, taking into consideration maintenance of the marine safety and security.

A dispute may arise however when a vessel’s owner denies his vessel’s involvement in an accident which the vessel is accused of committing, or when it is viewed that the fine and/or compensation imposed are exaggerated/ unproportionate with the damage allegedly caused.

In such a case, the owner of the vessel may refuse to pay which may expose the vessel to arrest/detention which upsets the vessel’s schedules and causes a domino effect of losses throughout the vessel’s idleness/detention period, including additional port dues, demurrage etc.

This forces the vessel ’s owners and underwriters to pay these said fines and/or compensations notwithstanding their conviction of their inapplicability or at least overestimation.

The question arises here; is it possible to recover these fines/compensations or part thereof following thorough consideration of their entitlements/applicability?

The answer is yes. As a matter, of fact, the Egyptian Civil Law has organized such disputes by the filing of a lawsuit for “refunding amounts unduly paid, ” pursuant to the provisions of Articles 181 to 187 of the Civil law. In these types of lawsuits, evidence and proof are submitted before the court to substantiate the inaccuracy of the fine/compensation assessment, leading to a demand for full or partial refund of the amounts unduly paid.

Despite the difficulty of these lawsuits and given that the opposing party in those said cases  is predominantly a  governmental body, our firm “Eldib Advocates” has been able to achieve several breakthrough results over the years in such judicial disputes, where both the technical and legal teams of our office have worked side by side in a harmonious and homogeneous manner to present before the court a strong defense supported by evidence and grounds to dismiss the vessel’s owners/masters responsibility for the accidents/ violations against which the fines/compensation subject to the refund claims, have been imposed.

Two recent examples of Eldib Advocates successes in obtaining final court judgement in favor of both the owners are those of the cases pertaining to M/V “MOL PRESENCE” and M/V “MANDARIN TRADER” in which our teams efforts paid off in recovering the compensations previously paid by the owners of both vessels to the Suez Canal Authority against the allegation that buoys were destroyed during the transit of these vessels in the Suez Canal. Upon execution of these judgments, we have succeeded to recover sums exceeding US$ 100,000 in favor of the owners of both vessels.

“Eldib Advocates” are fully prepared to defend the interests of vessel owners and operators who are affected by the imposition of fines by some authorities and for the imposition of compensation for incidents or violations attributed to them – contrary to the truth – or by imposing fines and demanding excessive and unfair compensation. Eldib Advocates team is experienced and geared in handling the refund requests in cases where it is suspected that the imposed fine/compensation which have been paid by the vessel are overestimated –under reserve – against allowing the vessel to sail without delay.

Our aim is to assist in refunding the amounts that exceed a fair and legal estimate of the fine/ compensation, without prejudice to the need to maintain friendly relations with all marine authorities and governmental departments that vessel’s owners and agents deal with in Egypt.

Egyptian Courts & COVID-19

Posted on: April 6th, 2020
Image result for covid 19 photo

Following official statements by Egypt’s various courts, most courts in Egypt will be closed to the public for two weeks with all upcoming hearings postponed to a later date, this comes as a part of the country’s effort to promote social distancing in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A number of decisions have been taken in an attempt to decrease the possibility of exposure to the virus and to promote social distancing to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The two-week hiatus started on the 15th March 2020 when the Egyptian Courts decided to suspend all its hearings as of 16th March 2020 until 30th March 2020 in compliance with the President of the Supreme Court’s instructions. However, the instructions also provided that the courts’ administrative work shall proceed as usual including roll registration, perusals, receipt of photocopies, certificates and other administrative work; bearing in mind that all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the safety of the employees and frequent attendants.

The aforementioned decision was taken in an attempt to avoid the crowding of litigants provided that rendering judgments are not suspended and the renewal of incarceration periods are made on their scheduled dates. However, it has been decided that the attendance before the court shall only be for the accused and their lawyers. This decision shall not affect the right of litigants or their proxies to appeal any judgments nor the issuance of certificates.

The Eldib Advocates and Eldib Pandi, our commercial sister company, teams across all our offices are taking all the necessary precautions for the health and safety of our employees and clients. We are consciously keeping with the recommended social distancing proposals in order to play our role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Our teams will continue to work both from our offices and if necessary remotely to satisfy the needs of our clients.

We will continue to keep you updated on the situation on the ground.

Please stay safe.

Shipowners Limitation of Liability For Maritime Claims under Egyptian Maritime Law

Posted on: September 10th, 2018

 

Maritime transport is important for both economic and commercial aspects of our lives today, as it is one of the main types of transportation method adopted worldwide. Despite the progress of air transport and the amount of goods transported by air, maritime transport still has the superiority in the field of transportation due to the large tonnage of ships, efficiency and the low cost of transportation as compared to transportation by air.

Ever since the Middle Ages, the shipping community have agreed on the importance of maritime transport and the principle of limitation of the ship-owners’ liability for the damages that may occur during the transportation period. With the improvement of the maritime transportation sector, increase of awareness in the field and the development of legislations and international treaties, more countries have adopted the principle of ship-owners’ limitation of liability.

The prominent limitation of shipowner’s liability is the limitation granted by law for the damages sustained to the cargo shipped according to the Marine Contract of Carriage. Whereas, there is another limitation that has been granted to the shipowners for the Maritime claims that may have taken place during the transportation period.

Consequently, we will explain hereunder the shipowner’s limits of liability for Maritime Claims pursuant to the Egyptian Maritime Law No. 8 for the year 1990 (EML 1990).

What is the Limitation of liability For Maritime Claims:

According to EML 1990 the shipowner shall be civilly liable for the acts of the master, seamen, pilot and any other person serving on the ship when such act is committed in the course, or because, of their duties. Article No. 81 of the said law allows the shipowner to limit their liability, even if the debt is in favour of the state or public sector, and if the damage arise from any of the following causes:

  • The damages caused by the ship to the Harbour’s installation, dockyards, water courses, or navigational aids.
  • Physical or material damages occurring on board the ship, or those connected directly with maritime navigation or the operation of the ship.

However, Article No. 82 of the said Maritime Law specifies six occasions, where limitation of liability shall not be applied, namely:

  • Floating a sunken or stranded or deserted ship, lifting wrecks, cargo, and objects found on it.
  • Salvaging the ship
  • Participating in General Average
  • Nuclear damage
  • The rights of the ship’s master, crew and all other subordinates to the shipowner working on the ship or whose job is related to serving the ship. Such right is also determined for the successors and heirs of the said persons
  • Damage resulting from oil pollution and contamination by other materials

Meanwhile, in the event that damages have occurred as a result of one of the aforementioned causes, the shipowner will be liable to compensate the injured party for the said damages which will be determined by the competent court without taking into consideration the shipowner’s limitation.

How to calculate the limitation according to EML 1990

The calculation of the ship-owner limitation of liability has been clarified in Article No. 83 from the aforesaid law as following:

  • EGP 600,000 for the damage resulting from physical damages, in case the total tonnage of the vessel does not exceed 500 tons. However, if the total tonnage exceeds the said figure, the liability shall be increased by EGP 350 per ton in addition to the stipulated EGP. 600,000.
  • EGP 300,000 for any other damages occurring for reasons other than physical damages, in case the total tonnage of the vessel does not exceed 500 tons. However, if the total tonnage of the vessel exceeds the said figure, the liability shall be increased by EGP 150 per ton in addition to the stipulated EGP. 300,000.

Who can benefit from the limitation

The shipowners are not the only party who has the right to limit their liability. Pursuant to the provisions of EML 1990, the limitation of liability can also be applied in respect of the ship’s operator, who is not the owner, charterer,  manager, master or seaman in addition to other subordinates of the owner, operator, charterer or manager, as regards to the performance of their duties and according to the same conditions as those applicable to the owner, provided the liability of the owner, as well as that of the foregoing persons shall not exceed the limits set down in Article 83 with regard to the same accident.

The law also grants the right to apply limitation to the master or the seaman in case the proceedings are brought against them. As the master or the seamen may insist on applying the limitation, even when the accident resulting in damages was due to their personal fault.

The liability action against the shipowners and all interests shall lapse with the expiry of two years as of the date the act establishing the liability occurred (the date of incident).

Overview on the Carrier’s Legal Liability:  

Most of the legal systems in the Middle East have adopted the concept that the carrier’s liability remains in force during the transportation period of the cargos and hence any damage that may occur in that period shall be the responsibility of the carrier without the need to prove the occurrence of damage on its part unless the carrier proves that the sustained damages has occurred as a result of a foreign reason such as the nature of the cargo,  force majeure, a sudden accident or the shipper’s / the consignee’s fault or that the damage occurred prior to the loading operations or following the discharge bearing in the mind the carrier’s granted limitation of liability according to the Marine Contract of Carriage. Moreover, the local laws grant the carriers the right to limit their liability for the damages caused by the ship unless the accident has occurred due to the carrier’s personal fault, which should be proven by the claimant.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Egypt has ratified the London Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC 1976), where the said convention has come into force in Egypt as of the first day of July, 1988.

Therefore, in case a claim is brought before the Egyptian Courts and involves an of the persons defined in the LLMC 1976 as parties to the convention, then the said person shall be entitled to seek the application of the provisions of the limitation of liability stipulated in the convention.

By Karim Marouny

for Eldib Advocates