Kurds and Weigh

SCF_BYRRANGAAn appeal in a dispute between the Iraqi oil ministry and the Kurdistan governmental authority (“KRG”) ended in dismissal for mootness, after the tanker with the relevant oil “weighed anchor . . and . . . sailed to Ahkelon, Israel[.]”  (The ship at issue, UNITED KALAVRYTA, appears at right and is presently underway in the Black Sea.)    The Fifth Circuit rejected several arguments by the KRG that the dispute remained live, including:

  • Any request in the complaint for a declaratory judgment was merely ancillary to the claim to recover the tanker under admiralty law;
  • No claim for interest remained because the Ministry sought to recover the oil, not money damages;
  • The “such other and further relief” clause at the end of the complaint was not a pleading for money damages; and
  • “[H]ypothetical future shipments do not prevent the dispute regarding the Cargo at issue here from being moot.”

The Court also rejected a request by the TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_SmallKRG for vacatur of the lower court’s decision, noting in particular that “the KRG mooted this appeal through its voluntary decision to discharge the Cargo in Israel.  In so doing, the KRG severely weakened its argument for equitable relief.”  Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq v. Kurdistan Region of Iraq, No. 15-40062 (Sept. 21, 2015, unpublished).

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