The Ever Given is no longer blocking the Suez Canal, but the crisis is far from over for companies forced to endure a protracted legal battle in hopes of recovering goods worth hundreds of millions of dollars that have been stuck on the impounded container ship for months.
IKEA and Lenovo (LNVGF) are among the companies with products stuck on the Japanese-owned vessel that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March. Smaller firms such as UK bicycle maker Pearson 1860 and Snuggy UK, which makes wearable blankets, also have vital orders stuck in limbo. “We don’t hold out much hope of seeing our stock this year and although it is insured in transit, we have guessed there will be little chance of seeing a settlement for months if not years,” Will Pearson, director of Pearson 1860, told CNN Business. His company has products worth more than $100,000 on the ship.
An Egyptian court impounded the Ever Given and its 18,300 cargo containers after the Suez Canal Authority filed an initial $916 million compensation claim against Japanese ship owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha for damages and losses incurred when the ship ran aground in a narrow part of the canal, blocking traffic. The Ever Given — and its cargo — are being held in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake during the legal battle. Several companies with products on the Ever Given told CNN Business they have been left in the dark about the status of their goods as legal proceedings continue, and are excluded from negotiations surrounding their release. Even if a deal is reached, the companies or their insurers are likely to be on the hook for a portion of the settlement. The companies may be forced to pay under a maritime law principle called “general average,” which requires parties involved in a voyage to proportionally share costs in the event of a loss. The principle has its roots in regulations governing maritime trade set out by the people of Rhodes more than a millennium ago in what is now Greece.