arbitration, law, judgement
The court order has directed the cargo firm to pay the victim a sum of Dh40,000. Image Credit: Pixabay

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Commercial Court has ordered a cargo company to compensate a customer for damages to his belongings that got gutted in a fire at the company’s warehouse in Dubai in June 2020.

The court also ordered the company to bear all the court expenses and attorney fees for the benefit of the aggrieved party, Indian expat Thomas Abraham, a pilot with a UAE airline.

Thomas was one of the dozens of Indian expats who had paid thousands of dirhams to the cargo company to ship their belongings back home. Most of the aggrieved customers hail from the south Indian state of Kerala and had lost their livelihoods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gulf News had previously reported about the massive loss suffered by the relocating Indian expats who had lost their lifetime belongings in the warehouse fire. Their attempt seeking compensation through a writ petition in the Kerala High Court was also reported.

In February 2021, the High Court had disposed the writ petition filed by 15 aggrieved customers and left it open to the petitioners to work out a remedy and pursue their claim for compensation before the appropriate authorities.

Thomas, who had engaged the defendant cargo company to ship his belongings to India, then approached the UAE court through Abdalla Al Naqbi Advocates and Legal Consultants with the assistance of Femin Panikkassery, an Indian lawyer with the firm.

Panikkassery, who is also a legal consultant with the Pravasi Legal Aid Cell (PLAC), an initiative of Norka-Roots, under the Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs Department of the Kerala government, said Thomas was the first customer to file a compensation case against the company here in the UAE.

“The court had appointed an expert to assess the loss and considered that report while issuing the order,” he told Gulf News.

“This judgement offers big hopes to other customers who also lost their valuable belongings in the warehouse fire,” he said.

Thomas stated that he had engaged and paid the defendant cargo company to ship his belongings including electronics, home appliances and furniture to Kerala.

“The quote given to me by the cargo company was for Dh13,000. This included transport of some goods to India and storage/relocation of the remaining goods in the UAE for a period ending February 2020. Beyond this, I would have to pay them a monthly rate based on how long the goods would be kept in storage. Based on this, I had paid them an amount of Dh6,000 with the balance to be paid upon my return to the UAE and once I had set up house in Abu Dhabi.”

“There are more than 70 people who lost their belongings in the fire,” he said.

Femin said the process is on for the execution of the court order which has directed that the company pay Thomas a sum of Dh40,000.