APRIL 30, 2015 — Details are now emerging about the Iranian court case that led to the April 28 seizure of the Marshall Islands registered containership Maersk Tigris by units of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Navy (see earlier story).
Maersk said today that it has met with the Ports & Maritime Organization in Iran and believes that the seizure of Maersk Tigris is related to a cargo case dating back to 2005.
Maersk is reported as saying that in early January 2005, 10 containers arrived in Dubai, which Maersk Line had transported on behalf of an Iranian company. The containers were never collected by the consignee or any other party, so after 90 days and in accordance with UAE law, the cargo was disposed of by UAE authorities.
The Iranian company subsequently accused Maersk Line of default before the Tehran Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office and claimed recovery of $4 million as the value of the cargo. Maersk challenged the suit and in 2007 the case was dismissed. The case then went before the Iranian district courts in 2009, and 2009. The Iranian company then initiated civil proceedings in the Tehran Public Civil Court.
In February 2015, the appeal court of Tehran ordered Maersk Line to pay the company $163,000 which Maersk said it was willing to do, however the Iranian company appealed seeking a higher compensation.
It has come to light this morning that the appeal court has ruled that Maersk Line must pay $3.6 million.
"We have however not received any written or formal confirmation that the seizure and the cargo case are connected," the company said in a statement reported by Reuters. "We must insist that the crew and vessel are released as soon as possible. The crew is not employed by Maersk Line, nor is the vessel owned by Maersk Line. Maersk Tigris and its crew are thus not in any way party to the case."
The name of the other party was revealed in this statement released by Iran's Port and Maritime Organization:
Following the release of the news for arresting a commercial ship with Marshal Island Flag, in the media inside and outside the country, the Port and Maritime Organization of Iran issued a statement for clearing the public's mind. On April 28 a ship belonging to MAERSK lines was arrested according to the Legal Court of Tehran and stopped after being transferred to Shahid Bahonar Port area in Bandarabbas Port .
The verdict was issued according to the legal claim by a private company named Pars Talaee Oil Production Company against MAERSK shipping.
This claim was presented in the legal courts during the last years as a lawsuit and after following the procedures for proceedings, having received the plea from both parties and asking for reconsideration of the issue, the final verdict was issued by the concerned court of competent jurisdiction and the MAERSK Lines was condemned to pay for the financial loss for the plaintiff according to the final enforceable verdict.
This verdict has been notified to Port and Maritime Organization as the maritime authority and was implemented by the operational forces.
It has to be mentioned that this issue has a legal aspect and relating it to political issues could be due to unawareness of the regulations and the case.
It is worth saying that Port and Maritime Organization is not a beneficiary in this regard and has not demanded a lawsuit against the said company. Moreover, regarding the nature of this issue and the fact that the detained ship is now in guard of the legal authority, its release is possible according to the judicial verdict.
This Organization has always put its effort for the exact implementation of the domestic and international rules and has provided the necessary facilities for the safe shipping lines within the framework of international standards and hopes that within the above framework the issue will be resolved as quickly as possible.