Egypt is one of the first countries, which accessed the London International Convention 1976 on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims; the Egyptian Maritime Trade Law No. 8 for the year 1990 was regulated exceedingly in accordance with
the London International Convention 1976.
The concern of the marine navigation in Egypt is due to Egypt’s featured site which joins three continents Europe, Asia and Africa, along with the Suez Canal with its strategic role in maritime navigation. Maritime Trade Law No. 8 for the year 1990 regulated the problems that could be raised concerning maritime navigation including the ship owner responsibilities (Articles 80-90).
The Shipowner Liabilities:
Undoubtedly, the owner of the ship has a liability for his own actions; the owner of the ship also has a tort liability for the actions of the ship’s captain, crew, sailors, pilot and any other person in the service of the ship if such actions took place during or resulted from the performance of their duties.
He also has a contractual liability for the captain’s obligations ensuing from contracts concluded within the limits of his legal powers.
The Shipowner Liability Determination Rights:
Maritime Trade Law No. 8 for the year 1990 (Articles 81 and 82) set the shipowner right to determine his liability
regarding the debts. In some cases, he has the right to determine the liability and in other cases which have been stipulated by Article 82 he does not have the right to determine the liability.
The shipowner shall not insist on determining his liability if the claimant proved that the damage results from an act or refraining from an act by the shipowner or his deputy with the aim of causing the damage or by an indifference and recklessness with the knowledge that such damage may happen.
1- According to Article 81, the shipowner has the right to determine the amounts of his liability whatever the type of such liability is; regardless whether the debt is in favor of the state or a public person, if the debt is resulting from the following reasons:
a) Damages caused by the ship to the harbour’s installation, dockyards, water courses, or navigational aids;
b) Physical and material damages occurring on board the ship, or those connected directly with maritime navigation or the operation of the ship;
2- Article 82 stipulated that the shipowner shall not insist on the determination of the responsibility, if the debt is resulting from any of the following reasons:
a) Floating a sunken or stranded or deserted ship, lifting its wrecks and lifting its cargo and objects found on it;
b) Salvaging the ship;
c) Participating in joint loses;
d) The rights of the ship’s captain and crew and all other persons subservient to the ship shipowner who happen to be working on the ship or whose job is related to serving the ship. Also, the rights of successors and heirs of such persons;
e) Nuclear damage;
f) Damage resulting from oil pollution and contamination by other materials.
The Determination of the Amounts Resulting from the Shipowner Liabilities:
Under the Maritime Trade Law, any agreement concluded before occurrence of the accident related to the debt and its subject is the determination of the shipowner liability with amounts less than the undermentioned amounts shall be null.
The Maritime Trade Law makes a distinction between claims arising because of physical damages and claims arising for reasons other than physical damages.
Claims arising because of physical damages:
The liability of the shipowner in the case of physical damages if the total tonnage of the ship does not exceed 500 tonnes, shall be determined by 600,000 EGP; in case the total tonnage of the ship exceeds the before mentioned amount of tonnes, the liability shall be increased by 350 EGP per each exceeded ton.
The Egyptian law gave concessions to the physical damages claims; which are if the amounts assigned to the physical damages are not adequate to fulfill the liability in full; these damages shall have their share in the amounts assigned to other non-physical damages.
Also physical damages have precedence over other damages in distributing the amounts to compensate for these other damages.
Claims arising because of other than physical damages:
The liability of the shipowner in the case of non-physical damages if the total tonnage of the ship does not exceed 500 tonnes, shall be determined by 300.000 EGP; in case the total tonnage of the ship exceeds the before mentioned amount of tonnes, the liability shall be increased by 150 EGP per each exceeded tonne.
The amounts assigned to non-physical damages which are resulting from one incident shall be considered as one unit for the payment of the compensation of this incident; this is regardless the debts resulting or could be resulted from another incident.
The Shipowner debts:
In cases where a debt became payable to the shipowner before one of the creditors in one accident, in accordance to the law, the determination of the liability shall not be applicable except to the remaining amounts from a set-off of the two debts. Also, the creditor has no rights to take any procedures on the shipowner properties, if the creditor placed his hands on the compensation amounts or if the shipowner summits a guarantee and the courts accepted this guarantee. And, in cases where the ship owner settled one of the debts that supposed to be distributed before the compensation amounts distribution; he has the right to take the place of the creditor in the distribution by the amounts that he before settled, beside that the shipowner may ask the court to keep part of the compensation amounts which are appropriate to the settlement of the shipowner debt.
Extinctive prescription of the claims:
The claims of the shipowner liability shall be lapsed after two years from the date of the action which established the shipowner’s liability; the validity of the two years’ period will be interrupted by sending a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, or receiving the documents which are related to the claims, or delegating an expert to assess the damages.