SL goes to the Arbitration Court in Singapore claiming X-Press Pearl damages
Sri Lanka is to go before the International Court of Arbitration in Singapore to recover a massive sum of money as compensation for damages caused by the destruction of the MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship in the island nation’s territorial waters.
The sheer scale of the disaster should be reason enough to “fight to get proper compensation for the country,” said Dan Malaka Gunasekera, an expert in maritime law.
He cited compensation claims filed by other countries over similar incidents to estimate that Sri Lanka should be able to secure between US$5 billion and $7 billion and Sri Lanka has to recover damages amounting to billions of dollars he added.
The latest payment brings the total paid by the ship’s insurer to $7.85 million. Sri Lanka received $3.6 million in July 2021, shortly after the June 2 sinking that was caused by a fire on board the Singapore-flagged X-Press Pearl, and another $1.75 million in January this year.
These payments are mainly to reimburse the government for the cost of the emergency response operations and for direct damages and cleanup
The inevitable legal battles could be strenuous, as Sri Lanka needs to secure these claims according to international maritime law, which means filing these claims early, Gunasekera said.
The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ), a local advocacy group, plans to file three lawsuits in the X-Press Pearl case.
“Sri Lanka has not ratified certain conventions which would have helped the island to mount compensation claims for maritime disasters of this kind and of this magnitude,” said e, a prominent environmental lawyer.
President Ranil Wickramasinghe has instructed Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe to take steps to file a case against the relevant shipping company before the International Court of Arbitration in Singapore to get compensation for the damages caused by the destruction of the MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship..
The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl container ship carrying a hazardous chemical cargo caught fire on 20 May 2021 while at anchorage 9.5 nm off Colombo Harbor due to a chemical leak in a container and burned for 13 days before the fire was put out on 2nd June. The ship along with its hazardous cargo sank afterwards.
Nearly a year and a half after the sinking of the cargo ship, Sri Lanka is still trying to claim compensation for the environmental damage created by the ship’s fire.