Dubai Shariah court to decide fate of $460m super-yacht Luna

Farkhad Akhmedov’s yacht in the Mugla Province of Turkey on Aug. 16, 2017. (Ali Balli/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Updated 25 July 2018
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Dubai Shariah court to decide fate of $460m super-yacht Luna

  • Dubai’s judicial authorities have ruled that a controversial case involving the $460 million super-yacht Luna must be decided in a UAE Shariah court
  • The super-yacht was impounded by DIFC courts while docked in the UAE for maintenance

DUBAI: Dubai’s judicial authorities have ruled that a controversial case involving the $460 million super-yacht Luna must be decided in a UAE Shariah court and not in the Dubai International Financial Center’s common-law courts system.
Ownership of the yacht — once the property of billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich — is a key part in bitter divorce proceedings between wealthy Azerbaijan-born businessman Farkhad Akhmedov and his former wife Tatiana Akhmedova.
The super-yacht was impounded by DIFC courts while docked in the UAE for maintenance after a London court handed it to Akhmedova as part of a £453 million ($600 million) divorce settlement in 2016.
But in a ruling earlier this month, seen by Arab News, the Dubai Judicial Tribunal has sent the matter to the Dubai courts for a decision. The tribunal was set up to decide on matters of disputed jurisdiction between the “offshore” DIFC court and the “onshore” courts.
The decision will add further controversy to a case that has already made headlines around the world. The Shariah legal system is generally held to treat the husband more favorably in divorce cases than Western courts.
In addition, the ruling could be interpreted as a further blow to the credibility of the DIFC’s independent legal system, based on common law and conducted in English, which is an important part of Dubai’s positioning as a global financial center.

 

 Akhmedov’s lawyers argued that his ex-wife had sought to use the DIFC courts as a “conduit jurisdiction to enforce the English family court judgment to avoid the stringent tests for recognition and enforcement (under UAE law), which violates public policy and public order in the UAE and Islamic shariah,” according to the ruling.
They added that “the jurisdiction of the DIFC courts is restricted to civil and commercial matters. They are not competent in family and marital matters.”
The Judicial Tribunal, under chairman Ali Ibrahim Al-Imam, accepted that argument and said that the Dubai courts were the “competent courts to entertain the dispute, including the attachment of the yacht.”
The court could lift the current impounding order. Akhmedov has claimed the Luna is not owned by him, but by a Liechtenstein corporation, Straight Establishment, for the benefit of his children.
The 115-meter Luna, launched in 2009, has two helipads, a 20-meter swimming pool, a mini-submarine and 10 luxury guest cabins.
It has been in Dubai dry docks since October last year. There have been concerns about its condition deteriorating in an Arabian Gulf summer, and permission has been sought from the court to move it from its current position to nearby Port Rashid.
One lawyer involved in the case, who asked not to be identified, said: “Our guidance is that it could take between six and 12 months to get a decision from Dubai courts, and that will not be good for the condition of the vessel.
“A lot depends on whether the court will seek a full review of the terms of the original settlement made by the English court. The man tends to do better in Shariah courts,” he said.

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Super Yacht

The $460 million, 115-meter Luna has two helipads, a 20-meter swimming pool, a mini-submarine and 10 luxury guest cabins.


Libya’s NOC declares force majeure on El Sharara oilfield

Updated 18 December 2018
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Libya’s NOC declares force majeure on El Sharara oilfield

  • El Sharara — a 315,000 barrels a day field was taken over on Dec. 8 by groups of tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments
  • Some government officials favor offering quick cash to the occupiers to make them leave, but NOC officials have warned that would set a precedent

TRIPOLI: Libya’s state oil firm NOC has declared force majeure on operations at the country’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, a week after it announced a contractual waiver on exports from the field following its seizure by protesters.

The 315,000 barrels a day field, located in the south of the North African OPEC member country, was taken over on Dec. 8 by groups of tribesmen, armed protesters and state guards demanding salary payments and development funds.

Officials have been unable to persuade the groups, who have been camping on the field, to leave the vast, partly unsecured site amid disagreements how best to proceed, workers on the field said.

Some government officials favor offering quick cash to the occupiers to make them leave, but NOC officials have warned that would set a precedent and encourage more blockades, workers at the oilfield say.

NOC has described the occupiers as militia trying to get on the payroll of field guards, a recurring theme in Libya where many see seizing NOC facilities as an easy way to get heard by the weak state authorities.

Production will only restart after “alternative security arrangements are put in place,” NOC said in a statement.

Operations at the smaller El Feel oilfield continued as normal, engineers said.

“Production at Sharara was forcibly shut down by an armed group — Battalion 30 and its civilian support company — that claimed to be providing security at the field, but which threatened violence against NOC employees,” NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanallah said in the statement.

His comments came after the chief of staff of the Tripoli-based government, Abdulrahman Attweel, criticized some of Sanalla’s previous comments about the protesters as “irresponsible.”

“These people (guards) were there to protect the field without salaries and without any attention to them and their daily needs, not in terms of accommodation, supply, transportation and communication,” Attweel told Al-Ahrar channel late on Monday.

Their demands were legitimate, he said, echoing comments by some southern lawmakers and mayors demanding more jobs and development for the neglected region.
The blockade has been complicated by the presence of tribesmen, who have argued against quick cash payments saying they want funds to improve hospitals and other services, which might take time to deliver.

The shutdown of the El Sharara has not affected the El Feel oilfield, also located in the south. It continued to pump around 70,000 barrels a day, field engineers said.
Its exports were being routed via the Melittah oil and gas port, which like El Feel belongs to a joint venture NOC has with Italian energy company Eni, another engineer said.

A spokesman for NOC did not respond to a request for comment.
El Sharara crude is normally transported to the Zawiya port, also home to a refinery. NOC runs the field with Spain’s Repsol , France’s Total, Austria’s OMV and Norway’s Equinor, formerly known as Statoil.