Friday, 8 June 2012

Discussing the effect of the Athens Convention Part 2.  

 As previously stated the Athens Convention is concerned with a carrier’s liability to passengers for death, personal injury and loss of or damage to luggage in the course of international carriage by sea and Article 14 of the Convention states that:  “No action for damages for the death of or personal injury to a passenger,or for the loss of or damage to luggage, shall be brought against a carrier or performing carrier otherwise than in accordance with this convention”.

What needs to be considered is your legal position when your package holiday includes carriage by sea which is otherwise covered by the Athens Convention?

The question is can you bring a claim further to Regulation 15 of the Package Travel Regulations 1992 without being held back by the articles within the Athen’s Convention i.e. if you (the Claimant) are injured on board a vessel, and such injury is caused by the negligence of the carrier or its employees.

In the recent case of :-

Williams & Debling v Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd [2011]  Unreported, QB (Admiralty Court)
A Claim was brought by 4 Claimants against Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd.    While re-joining the cruise liner in Bilbao, two of the Claimants fell from the gangplank into the sea when the mooring lines on the vessel failed and they swung out from their berth. The claim was defended on the basis that the failure of the mooring lines was the result of an entirely unexpected and unforeseeable extreme weather in the form of a severe gust of wind. Both the Claimants relied on expert opinion evidence from Master Mariners. The Claimants were successful in establishing liability and the Judge found that the Claimants could rely on article 3(3) of the Athens Convention and on res ipsa loquitur (the principle that the mere occurrence of some types of accident is sufficient to imply negligence). However, it was also found that they had succeeded in proving that negligence or fault was the cause of their injuries quite apart from the assistance of article 3(3) of the Athens Convention.
Based on the outcome of this recent case it would seem that the best way to ensure a successful outcome in the event that you have to make a claim due to an injury sustained whilst on a cruiseliner/boat is to ensure that your claim is made not only alleging negligence but also under the Athen’s Convention.

This published article may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.

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