City-based shipping specialist Ince & Co has been hit by a multimillion-dollar negligence claim from a former Greek client.
Blue Strim Maritime has filed a claim in the Greek courts for $23m (£13.1m) in damages, alleging that Ince is responsible for the shipping company walking away empty handed from an arbitration dating back to the mid-1990s with defunct Romanian state carrier Romline.
Blue Strim also alleges that Ince had a conflict of interest, claiming that the firm was also acting for rival Romline creditors. Additionally, the company has launched criminal proceedings against seven of Ince’s lawyers.
Ince rejects all the allegations and has filed a defence. Piraeus-based partner Jonathan Elvey, who is one of the seven defendants in the criminal case, has launched his own criminal proceedings against Blue Strim principal Panagiotis Daskalakis for alleged defamation.
Elvey told The Lawyer that his firm is defending the claim “most vigorously”. He said: “We’re defending the charges because we don’t believe they’re right and don’t believe they have any merit.”
Elvey also denied that there was a conflict of interest.
Blue Strim instructed Ince in the summer of 1996 in relation to the dispute with Romline. It is understood that Blue Strim had entered into an agreement with Romline for the delivery of six small freighters, which the company intended to sub-contract. However, Romline fell into financial difficulty and consequently failed to deliver the vessels.
Elvey said: “Blue Strim made their own decisions, which at the time they thought were right. But those decisions haven’t produced what Blue Strim had hoped for, so they’re now looking for someone else to blame.”
A hearing for the civil case has been scheduled for 17 January 2008. Meanwhile, the Greek authorities are considering whether the criminal complaint should be investigated.
Blue Strim could not be reached for comment.