Ever Given's Owner Files Suit to Limit Damages, Declares GA

ever given
Salvors celebrate the refloat of the Ever Given (Suez Canal Authority)

Published Apr 1, 2021 6:00 PM by Paul Benecki

The owner of the boxship Ever Given has filed suit against operator Evergreen in connection with the vessel's grounding in the Suez Canal on March 23, according to UK outlet The Lawyer. The objective of the pre-emptive suit is to limit potential damages, and the defendants include Evergreen, the Suez Canal Authority and all other parties who may later file a claim in connection with the incident, according to parties familiar with the case. 

The Panama-flagged Ever Given is owned by Panama-based Luster Maritime, a subsidiary of Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha. She is chartered to Taiwanese carrier Evergreen, with ship management by Japanese firm Higaki Sangyo Kaisha and technical management by the Hong Kong division of BSM. 

As the shipowner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha is widely expected to bear the brunt of damage claims from shippers and shipping interests. Egypt alone believes it is owed at least $1 billion in compensation for the six-day shutdown and the cost of the refloat effort, Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie told reporters Wednesday. He did not specify who should be liable to pay the damages, but he emphasized that Egyptian responders "saved [the shipowner] so much by rescuing the ship without any major damage or losses." 

“We could agree on a certain compensation, or it goes to court,” Rabie said. “If they decide to go to court, then the ship should be held."

Shoei Kisen Kaisha has declared general average in connection with the disaster, indicating that it will impose a bond requirement on cargo interests before releasing containers from the ship. Richard Hogg Lindley has been appointed as the GA adjuster, according to The Loadstar. 

GA charges are typically assessed as a percentage of the value of the cargo, and in the case of massive losses - like the catastrophic fire on the Maersk Honam - shippers may be asked to pay GA and salvage bonds exceeding half the value of their cargoes. No cargo has been damaged in connection with this incident, but the bonds may be used to recover the cost of the refloat effort. 

For its part, Evergreen believes that as the charterer it has "very low" exposure to financial risk from the grounding, president Eric Hsieh told Taiwanese reporters on Thursday. “Our risk exposure from the Ever Given incident is very low - even if there are damages, it will be covered by insurance,” Hsieh said. “Evergreen is free of responsibility from cargo delays [under the terms of carriage].”