No more than $34.3 million damages for crashed Bosphorus mansion
Ayşegül Usta - ISTANBUL
An Istanbul court has ruled that the total amount to be paid by the owner of a ship which rammed into a waterside mansion on the Asian side of the Bosphorus should be limited with 206,103,865 Turkish Liras, or about $34.3 million, at most.
The 17th Commercial Court of First Instance in Istanbul based its verdict on the articles of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC), a treaty concluded in London in 1976.
The Maltese-flagged Vitaspirit, a 225-meter (740 foot) vessel en route from Russia to Saudi Arabia, had rammed into the historical Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Mansion on April 7, 2018. Luckily, there were no permanent residents in the building at the time of the incident. No casualties were caused by the collision, but the wooden mansion, built by Ottoman nobles in the 18th century, was severely damaged.
Odyssey Navigation Co., the possessor of the ship, applied to a court with a demand of limited liability. The hearing on May 15 was attended by lawyers of both the international company and the Turkish company organizing an event at the mansion, alongside some members of the family who owns the building.
Deciding that “the crash was not an act of malice aforethought or willful misconduct,” the court established the upper limit of the damages to be paid as 22,377,596 SDR, which is equal to 187,432,506 Turkish Liras. When the accruing interest of 18,671,358 was added, the final amount was declared as 26,103,865, or roughly $34.3 million.
According to the court verdict, the total amount will be placed in a fund to be managed by the highest three-month interest rate until the damages were determined legally. Then, the damages will be paid by the fund.
The court had previously issued a warrant for the seizure of the ship over an application by the owners noting that the mansion had lost its historical status as a result of the crash. The court had also authorized the Maltese tanker Vitaspirit to be seized against the costs, specifying that the lien shall continue until the mansion’s owners are paid $50 million.
The Bosphorus is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, as more than 40,000 military, naval and commercial vessels pass through the strait annually.
One of the worst was the deadly December 1960 collision between the Yugoslav-flagged tanker Petar Zoranic and the Greek vessel World Harmony that caused a fire which lasted for weeks.