OW Bunker's restructuring triggered a number of cases involving shipowners or operators that contracted with OW, but were physically supplied bunkers by a third party. Recent Lebanese case law has put pressure on shipowners, as the maritime lien principle gives creditors the right to arrest a ship even if the shipowner is not the debtor. This puts shipowners in the untenable position of having two different parties demand payment for the same debt.
In September 2015 47% more containers were shipped through the Port of Beirut than in the same month in 2014. Since much seaborne trade is containerised, there has been a notable increase in containerised cargo claims in recent years. Carriers are in most instances well prepared to defend these claims and limit their liability according to the various applicable laws and regulations.
Bunker fuel constitutes a fundamental part of and one of the largest expenses in ship operations; in difficult market conditions, this causes bunker suppliers and traders to face delays in payment, non-payment or requests to provide credit terms. Ship arrest may thus be a suitable remedy for unpaid bunker traders. The Lebanese judicial system has contributed greatly to the country's status as a ship arrest-friendly jurisdiction.