Middle Eastern Claims
In some Middle Eastern countries a claimant can bring an action against the ship agent who, without having done anything wrong themselves, is jointly and severally liable with the ship owner.
In the last few years ITIC has seen an increase in claims against ship agencies. For example, in Saudi Arabia there was the case of a port agent being held accountable by port authorities for a vessel grounding; in Qatar there was an agent held responsible for a ship which sank whilst in port; finally, in Kuwait, pressure was applied by a port authority on a ship agent to produce an unconditional bank guarantee for USD 9.8m, for damage to two gantry cranes caused by a ship whilst berthing, for which they were agents.
There is also the problem of cargo claims being presented by cargo interests directly against Kuwaiti port agents. In the absence of any negligence on the agent’s part, these claims should be dealt with by the agent’s principal and their P&I Club. However, principals and their P&I Clubs sometimes refuse to indemnify an agent unless a judgement has been made against them. The legal process can be slow and by the time the judgement is made the principal may no longer be trading.