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Legal professionals urged to act for seafarers


The spotlight is now on legal counsels who only serve corporate clients

The crew onboard MV Angelic Power for 17 months have finally been repatriated after a lengthy legal battle in the Chinese courts. The crux of this saga was the fact the stranded seafarers were reduced to hire their own counsels. This struck a raw nerve with the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF); everyone was focusing on the financial matters instead of the seafarers’ welfare.

Seafarers hiring their own counsels

The MV Angelic Power had 9 Greek and 12 Filipino crew onboard when it unloaded its cargo at Guangzhou in July 2020. The vessel remained stuck due to a dispute between cargo receiver and the shipowner. Only 7 Greek crew were fortunate to be repatriated while the remainder remained onboard till 21 July 2021 as ordered by the authorities.

The Greek owner, Angeliki Dynamis Investment, and operator, Panthalassa Maritime Corp, abandoned the vessel in February 2021 and ceased paying the crew. The expired insurance only worsened the situation, and total wages owed is a recorded US$221,000. As this article is published, all crew have been released much to ITF’s relief. However, ITF’s inspector Jason Lam called out the inaction of the courts for seafarers’ wellbeing.

“Their physical and mental wellbeing has worsened as the months passed. The court appointed a local agent and funded the supply of provisions, water and other necessities. This is great, but still the court imprisoned 15 entirely innocent people,” Lam lamented. Steve Trowsdale ITF’s inspectorate coordinator, seconded Lam’s complaint. He asserted maritime courts need to do better for crew onboard abandoned vessels round the globe. Trowsdale stressed, “The court should have immediately looked at the welfare of the crew and arranged for their repatriation back in December when the case first came up.”

While the Filipino seafarers’ counsels argued for repatriation, Lam had to personally persuade the lawyers to do the same for the two remaining Greek crew. Maritime lawsuits typically involve only the corporates, unfortunately never the individuals. This time with ITF’s intervention (again), it is still a glimmer of hope for seafarers who are about to be embroiled in similar episodes.


Crewing Online News Team
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