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Precautionary seizure in light of maritime trade law

precautionary seizure of ships

The maritime sector is the pillar on which global trade is based, as it represents 90% of the volume of world trade that is transported by ships. Therefore, maritime transport is the base on which global trade and supply chains are based. And due to the development of trade and economic relations between the countries of the world, the countries of the world have paid attention to maritime transport and trade.

The Navy organized a law that governs it and is called the Maritime Law, which includes the regulation of maritime trade by setting a set of rules regulating the special relations that arise from the ownership of ships and their exploitation in shipping and transport operations, and extends to the rules related to this exploitation of marine accidents and marine insurance.

Given that the maritime activity as an economic activity is built on a foundation of trust and creditability, the Egyptian law in this regard has followed what is in conformity with the international maritime laws and treaties by supporting this creditability in a manner consistent with the fact that the Arab Republic of Egypt is a founding member of the International Maritime Organization and a permanent member of its board of directors, and the presence of the Suez Canal as a global shipping lane through which 12% of the international shipping traffic passes; The Arab Republic of Egypt was keen to keep up with the steady development in the rules regulating maritime trade and was keen – also – to harmonize its laws to comply with international treaties and rules in this regard, as it issued the Maritime Trade Law No. 8 of 1990.

It is clear that specific reasons led to the establishment of an independent maritime law to regulate maritime trade alongside with the commercial law regulating land trade.

Therefore, it is predictable that the scope of application of the maritime law is limited to the reasons that led to its emergence, which are the unparalleled sea risks in land transport, and then Maritime law applies to navigation in the seas and has nothing to do with river navigation or navigation in inland lakes.

The ship’s legal system as a maritime navigation tool

Given that the ship is a tool and a mean of marine navigation, some believed that the ship is the focus of maritime law, and that the legislator singled out for it in the Maritime Trade Law a special attention that gives it special protection due to its special nature.

Because it is not prepared for stability as it roams the seas, which means that it is prepared by its nature to move from one place to another, It plays an important role in maritime trade and the national economy, especially some foreign ships that dock for a short period and then leave and may not return again, leaving behind owners of rights that arose for them as a result of their dealings with the captain of the ship such as suppliers of supplies or fuel or those who repaired the ship and others.

In order to encourage maritime investment and protect the rights of maritime creditors, the Maritime Trade Law established a legal system for the ship, making it a separate and independent economic unit with its rights and obligations, Also a special regulation for the precautionary seizure of ships has been devoted to it.

The meaning of precautionary seizure

Precautionary seizure of ships means, the seizure whose only objective is merely to place the ship owned by the debtor under the hands of the judiciary to prevent him from disposing of it in a way that harms the arrestor and so that it does not escape in the territorial water.

The ship subject to seizure is subject to a legal system according to which the powers of the debtor who owns this ship are restricted and curtailed until the debtor is urged to fulfill his obligation. The law permits the seizure of the ship even if it was ready to travel.

It is worth noting that the legislator authorized the seizure of commercial ships, while warships were excluded from imposing a precautionary seizure on them.

While at the international level, international efforts in this regard resulted in the signing of the agreement on unifying some rules of precautionary seizure of ships in Brussels in 1952, Egypt joined this agreement, and it was amended by the Geneva Convention in 1999.

Procedures of the precautionary seizure on ships

It should be noted that the precautionary seizure of ships in the light of the Maritime Trade Law is carried out by a temporary procedure issued by the President of the competent court of first Instance to sign the precautionary seizure of the ship in fulfillment of a marine debt related to the ship, such as port fees, waterways, expenses for removing salvage or lifting shipwreck and goods, and damages caused by the ship due to Collision, pollution, or other similar marine accidents, ship charter contracts, and other matters required by law.

The legislator supplemented the conditions for imposing the precautionary seizure on ships by stating that the debt on the ship or another ship owned by the debtor must be related to it at the time the debt arose.

A copy of the seizure report shall be delivered to the captain of the ship or to his representative, and a second copy to the maritime authority concerned within the port in which the seizure took place to prevent the ship from traveling, and a third copy to the registration office in the aforementioned port.

The creditor must file a claim for the debt and the validity of the seizure before the economic court in whose jurisdiction the seizure was imposed within the eight days following delivery of the minutes of seizure to the captain or his representative, otherwise the seizure shall be considered null and void.

The ruling on the validity of the seizure includes the order to sell, its conditions, the day appointed for carrying it out, and the price. The ruling may be appealed, whatever the amount of the debt, within fifteen days from the date of its issuance.

The seizure shall be removed by order of the President of the Court of First Instance or his representative to remove the seizure if the debtor submits a guarantee or other security sufficient to pay off the debt, or through a grievance made by the debtor to the same court that issued the seizure order.

In order to achieve the concept of ​​the specialized judge, the Egyptian legislator decided to have the jurisdiction of the economic courts to issue precautionary seizure orders on ships in order to speed up their procedures.

Thus, the Egyptian legislator has contributed to encourage maritime investment and ensuring protection for the elements of maritime relations through the system of precautionary seizure of the rights of maritime creditors so that each party is given its right.

At the same time, this seizure made the regulatory measures to balance the rights of creditors and the ships’ performance of their role in world trade.