Since 1956, De Castro & Robles has represented clients before the Panama Canal Authority, and its predecessors, the Panama Canal Company and Panama Canal Commission.
Claims for damages to vessels and cargo and injuries and deaths suffered by crew and passengers that may arise by reason of their transit through the Panama Canal, or navigation in waters adjacent thereto, including port terminals at both ends of the Canal, may be filed against the Panama Canal Authority within two (2) years of the occurrence, provided the basis for such claim is laid before the vessel departs Canal operation waters.
The basis for the claim is established by requesting an investigation before the Board of Inspectors of the Panama Canal Authority. During its investigation, the Board receives relevant documentation and interviews the witnesses under oath in connection with the navigational and safety aspects involved in the incident. The parties in interest and their respective counsel have the right to examine such witnesses. Attorneys from our firm have navigation backgrounds from the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA o Kings Point), which allows them to grasp and discuss technical and navigation aspects with Pilots, Masters and other witnesses.
A few weeks after the investigation is concluded, the Board issues its findings of facts and opinion regarding the cause of the accident. This opinion is not binding before any administrative or judicial authority.
The claim is analyzed by the Panama Canal Authority. If they agree with the merits of the claim, they will make an offer to settle it.
If a claimant is dissatisfied with the disposition of its claim by the Panama Canal Authority, it may file suit against the same before the Maritime Courts of the Republic of Panama within one (1) year from receiving the Authority’s final determination of its claim.
We are proud to have been the first firm to successfully engage in legal proceedings against the Panama Canal Authority before the Panamanian Maritime Courts.