A number of precedents of both the UAE Federal Supreme Court and the Dubai Supreme Court have established that the statute of limitations mentioned in Article 287(a) of the Commercial Maritime Law (26/1981), and the amendments thereto, provides that the one-year time limitation for claims arising from a maritime carriage contract should commence from the actual delivery date, or from the date on which the delivery should have taken place. In one such case (Appeal 116 of October 10 1998), the UAE Federal Supreme Court considered how this applied to prolonged delivery.
Based on its subrogation rights, an insurance company brought an action against a carrier for a shortage and damages to a sugar consignment shipped from Belgium to Port Khalid in Sharjah. The carrier took the defence that the claim was time barred under Article 287 of the law. This was accepted by the lower court and the Court of Appeal, forcing the claimant to appeal before the Federal Supreme Court.
The Federal Supreme Court overruled the appeal court's judgment. The statement of Port Khalid's director indicated that the delivery of the goods in question commenced on June 6 1989 and was completed on September 29 1989. Therefore, when calculating the one-year time bar provided in Article 287(a),(1) the date of the completion of delivery should be used, not the commencement date of the delivery. To a large extent, this decision is in line with Article 62.3 of the Rotterdam Rules, although these rules deal with the partial delivery of the goods.
For further information on this topic please contact Ali Al Aidarous at Ali Al Aidarous International Legal Practice by telephone (+9714 282 8000), fax (+9714 282 8011) or email ([email protected]).
(1) Article 287(a) of the Commercial Maritime Law states as follows:
"Upon denial and absence of legal excuse the following shall be dismissed:
(a) Claims arising from a maritime carriage contract by lapse of one year after the date of cargo delivery or the date on which the delivery should have taken place."