SL files objections in X-Press Pearl case against compensation limits.
By: Staff Writer
January 19, Colombo (LNW): The Attorney General’s Department said it will file objections before the British High Court of Admiralty on the 29th of January against the restrictions imposed on compensation for the damage caused by the fire and sinking of the X-Press Pearl vessel.
The Attorney General’s Department said the court had earlier limited the compensation that could be obtained from the company that owns the vessel to 19.5 million Sterling Pounds.
As a result, there were limitations to recover sufficient compensation for the damage caused by the sinking of the vessel.
A detailed statement is scheduled to be submitted to the Court on the 27th of January in relation to the lawsuit brought before the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) to recover compensation from the shipping company.
Even then, the U.K. would also limit compensation to 19.5 million pounds ($24 million). In Sri Lanka, however, there would be no such cap.
Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe said the government would appoint a British lawyer to negotiate the compensation limitation set in the U.K. for the insurers. He reiterated the position that prospects for a favorable outcome are better in those overseas courts than in Sri Lanka.
The evidence in the case will be heard thereafter. The Attorney General’s Department added that the Harbor Master will be presented as the first witness.
The Singapore court has allowed the case filed by the Sri Lankan government against the company that owns the X-Press Pearl vessel to continue.
Accordingly, the case will be called before the Singapore International Commercial Court on the 29th of January.
The Attorney General’s Department said a detailed complaint should be filed before the court on behalf of the Sri Lankan government, prior to the hearing, and measures are being taken in this regard at present.
The Attorney General’s Department said court granted the relevant permission after the shipping company submitted preliminary objections in the case.
The case was filed to recover compensation for the damage caused to the marine ecosystem of Sri Lanka due to the X-Press Pearl fire and the sinking of the ship.
A 40-member expert committee convened by the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) to assess the environmental damage issued its second interim report in January this year, in which it put a price on the disaster: $6.4 billion.
Maritime rules require a claim for compensation to be filed within two years of the occurrence of the accident. The Singapore-flagged X-Press Pearl caught fire in Sri Lankan waters on May 20, 2021, and sank several days later.
But the long wait without filing action has caused anxiety among activists, who have criticized the government for not moving fast enough.