UPDATE: Maersk says never informed of Iran court ruling

Ten year old legal dispute likely cause for seizure of container vessel by Iran, says Maersk
Iran naval vessels fired on Tigris and boarded the ship in international waters, Maersk Line claims
Iran naval vessels fired on Tigris and boarded the ship in international waters, Maersk Line claims

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Maersk Line has announced that its container ship Mearsk Tigris was likely seized by Iranian naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz due to a ten-year-old legal dispute, which the shipping line lost in February, but was never informed by Iran.

The container ship Mearsk Tigris was detained by Iranian naval forces on Tuesday when entering the Arabian Gulf bound for Jebel Ali Port, warning shots were fired at the vessel before she was escorted to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port.

In a statement Thursday Mearsk Line that the shipping line had in 2005 delivered ten containers in Dubai for an Iranian customer Pars Talaie, but that the shipping containers were never collected. In line with Dubai laws, the containers and their contents were destroyed 90 days later.

The Iranian company subsequently filed a US $4-million lawsuit against Maersk Line, based on the value of the cargo. The case was rejected by Iran's state prosecutor's office in 2007, but on February 18 this year, a court of appeals in Tehran ruled in favour of the Iranian customer.

Maersk Line said that it has not until Thursday, April 30, been notified that a court of appeals in Tehran has sentenced the carrier to pay USD 3.6 million to the Iranian company.

"As we do not have the details of the ruling, we are not able to comment hereon, nor at this point speculate on our options," Maersk Line said in a statement.

According to the Iranian Embassy in Denmark, both the Iranian freight forwarder and Mearsk Line had been informed of the ruling. The embassy also repeated Tehran’s insistence that Tigris was boarded in Iranian waters, a claim Maersk disputes.

Iranian authorities have emphasised that there were no political or security-related motives behind the incident on Tuesday, but reports have emerged that another Mearsk Line vessel, US-flagged Maersk Kensington, was tracked by Iranian naval vessels, with four patrol boats surrounding the ship during her passage through the Strait.

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