The Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine (SACU) confirmed the illegality of the canal due collection by the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (USPA) for calling to Quarantine and Lanzheronovskaya harbors of Odessa Sea Port.
The court decision of June 22, 2017 was published on the State Register of Judicial Decisions of Ukraine on July 3, 2017.
The Supreme Administrative Court rejected the cassation claim of the USPA with a request to abolish the decision of Odessa Regional Administrative Court of 28.02.2017 and decision of Odessa Administrative Court of Appeal of 05.04. 2017 on the basis of alleged violations of substantive and procedural law.
The panel of judges found that the decisions of the court of first instance and court of appeal are well grounded and shall not be canceled. The panel of judges stated that the courts have thoroughly examined the circumstances of the case. The Supreme Administrative Court stated that the findings on circumstances of the case were correct, and the arguments of the cassation appeal were not grounded.
The Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine confirmed the absence of grounds for charging of dues for calling in to Quarantine and Lanzheronovskaya harbors. The court found that the vessels which call in those harbors do not pass the canal at one end, but only cross it. The crossing of the canal is a clearing of a navigation obstacle and it does not imply the use of a canal as a hydrotechnical construction. Ukrainian law doesn’t provide the levy of canal due for crossing or partial use of a canal. The courts came to the right conclusion on illegality of collection of canal due by the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority.
Alexander Schekin, the President of Container Lines Association of Ukraine, noted that his colleagues rely on an immediate reaction of the acting head of the USPA Veckagans Raivis, who will cancel the illegal levy. This fact will become the most accurate marker of the real interest of the USPA in creating conditions for increasing the attractiveness of Ukrainian harbors and developing the container market, building long-term and partnership relations with business representatives.
The head of law company LeGran.TT, Tatyana Titarenko emphasized that the decision of the The Supreme Administrative Court confirms the legitimacy of the position of LeGran.TT. In this case law firm represents the interests of the world’s largest linear operators in Ukraine. Mrs. Titarenko states that a number of expert opinions of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine, State Project Development and Research Institute of Marine Transport Chernomorniiproekt, State Research and Development Institute of the Merchant Marine of Ukraine, the Odessa Maritime Academy, the decisions of the Business Ombudsman and positive judicial practice proves that the only correct decision for USPA officials is to follow the courts’ decisions and abolish illegal order No. 37 of 10 August 2016 on collection of the canal due. This will bring the situation in line with the law and put an end to a long-term conflict with business.
The case was supported by director Tatyana Titarenko and the lawyer Danil Hristich.
Previously, the largest container operators authorized one of the leading companies in thr field of marine law LeGran.TT to represent their interests in the dispute with the USPA regarding the charging of the canal due. Acting head of the USPA issed the “separate order” No. 37 from August 10, 2016 which illegally obliged the head of the Odessa USPA office to levy the canal due from the ships following to Quarantine, Cabotage, New Harbor. In addition, USPA started to collect the due from vessels following to Lanzheronovskaya harbor.
LeGran.TT used all legitimate measures to protect the rights of its clients. The company’s lawyers collected a unique evidence base, expert opinions of State Project Development and Research Institute of Marine Transport Chernomorniiproekt, State Research and Development Institute of the Merchant Marine of Ukraine, the Odessa Maritime Academy, the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which confirmed the illegality of the collection of the due. The Council of the Business Ombudsman also recognized the illegality of the order of the USPA for surcharges of the channel due for crossing the approach channel by vessels following to the above harbors of the Port of Odessa.
The legal proceedings between USPA and the largest container lines lasted about six months. LeGran.TT has proved the defiance of USPA actions in the court of first instance and in appellate instances.