DP World yesterday began its formal defence of a US$50 million claim by a former Egyptian contractor in one of the final outstanding creditor cases before the Dubai World tribunal.
The trial, which commenced yesterday and will take place in the DIFC, is scheduled to run until next Tuesday.
The DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and chief executive Mohammed Sharaf may give evidence later this week. Platinum Services, a provider of hired labour and catering services, filed a $50m claim against the port operator in December 2013.
The company claims that the actions of DP World and its Egyptian unit DP World Sokhna combined to harm its reputation after the expiry in January 2013 of Platinum’s contract to run catering and other ground services at DP World’s terminal at Sokhna near the Suez Canal.
Platinum alleges that DP World Sokhna incited Platinum’s labourers to go on strike in January 2013, and thereafter had them transferred to the Red Sea Port Authority, which subsequently signed new agreements with DP World Sokhna. Platinum claims that such actions led to a loss of business, forcing it to close. DP World has denied that any loss suffered by Platinum was caused by any of its actions, or that of its subsidiaries.
The ports operator sought last year to have the case dismissed from the tribunal, arguing that the Egyptian courts were the proper venue for the case to be heard. This attempt was rejected by the tribunal’s chairman Sir Anthony Evans in May of last year.
The Dubai World Tribunal was established in late 2009 as an independent forum for the settling of mainly financial disputes between Dubai World and its subsidiaries (which include DP World) and third parties, in the midst of the conglomerate’s attempts to restructure $24 billion worth of debt.
Judgments of the tribunal cannot be appealed. Claims filed by and against Dubai World and its units in the tribunal have dried up since late 2011.
Just nine claims have been filed over the past four years, with none brought in the past 12 months. Platinum’s allegations relate to early 2013, when the port was closed for several days as labour strikes disrupted shipments.
DP World and Platinum Services each blame the other for instigating the unrest. Sokhna Port is one of DP World’s busiest ports, located on the Red Sea at the gateway of the trade link between East and West.
Separately, DP World has filed a court case in Egypt against Platinum, claiming its staff damaged DP World’s machinery and equipment and prevented DP World Sokhna’s staff from entering the port during the unrest.
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