ABS Scores Victories in Two PRESTIGE-Related Court Decisions

Key rulings in a long-simmering legal battle between the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Basque communities over the 2002 loss of the tankship PRESTIGE have been announced. U.S. District court Judge Laura Taylor Swain dismissed all claims against ABS and ordered the case closed. The Basques had already received compensation in the amount of 45.6 million Euros from the Spanish government, but also sought another $50 million from the US-based classification society. Swain’s ruling also means that the Basque communities will not be able to pursue future claims in the matter.

In a press release posted on the ABS WEB site, Stewart Wade, ABS Vice President of External Affairs said, “This is a significant step forward in reconciling these unwarranted claims against ABS relating to the loss of the Prestige for which the blame rests solely with the Spanish government for its decision to recklessly send a damaged vessel out to sea.”

A second ruling by Judge Swain ordered the Spanish government to provide ABS access to the entire court file from the criminal investigation into the loss of the PRESTIGE. Following the court ruling, ABS requested that access to the entire File be granted by Spain within 10 days.

“From the outset this was a frivolous claim against ABS,” said Wade. “It has always been our contention that, pursuant to Spanish law, the Basques had no standing to pursue this action in the US and that they should look to Spain for their alleged damages. Although the matter never reached the trial stage in the US, ABS has expended a substantial amount of time and money preparing its defence in Houston and NY and it is only fair and appropriate that we should recover compensation for those efforts from the Basques. We will continue to vigorously pursue the nullity action against them in the expectation that justice will also be done in Spain.”