BUSI­NESS Pas­sen­ger ship li­a­bil­ity, com­pen­sa­tion treaty en­ters into force

Daily Trust - - MARITIME - By Hamisu Muham­mad

The 2002 Athens Con­ven­tion re­lat­ing to the car­riage of pas­sen­gers and their lug­gage by sea, which sub­stan­tially raises the lim­its of li­a­bil­ity for the death of, or per­sonal in­jury to, a pas­sen­ger on a ship, en­tered into force yes­ter­day, April 23, 2014.

Ac­cord­ing to a memo from the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IMO), the higher lim­its of li­a­bil­ity will ap­ply to ships reg­is­tered in the fol­low­ing states which have rat­i­fied the 2002 treaty: Al­ba­nia, Bel­gium, Belize, Bul­garia, Croa­tia, Den­mark, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the Nether­lands, Nor­way, Palau, Panama, Saint Kitts and Ne­vis, Ser­bia, Syr­ian Arab Repub­lic and the United King­dom.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the con­ven­tion is manda­tory for Euro­pean Union Mem­ber States (in­clud­ing those that have not rat­i­fied the Athens Pro­to­col regime yet as in­di­vid­ual states) to the ex­tent that the Euro­pean Union has com­pe­tence over mat­ters gov­erned by the Pro­to­col, as the Euro­pean Union has rat­i­fied the treaty un­der a novel ar­ti­cle in the Pro­to­col which al­lows for a Re­gional Eco­nomic In­te­gra­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which is con­sti­tuted by sov­er­eign states that have trans­ferred com­pe­tence over cer­tain mat­ters gov­erned by this pro­to­col to that or­ga­ni­za­tion, to sign, rat­ify, ac­cept, ap­prove or ac­cede to the Pro­to­col.

The 2002 Pro­to­col to the Athens Con­ven­tion re­lat­ing to the Car­riage of Pas­sen­gers and their Lug­gage by Sea, 1974, (PAL), re­vises and up­dates the 1974 Con­ven­tion, which es­tab­lished a regime of li­a­bil­ity for dam­age suf­fered by pas­sen­gers car­ried on a seago­ing ves­sel. As a pre­con­di­tion for join­ing, Par­ties to the 2002 Pro­to­col are re­quired to de­nounce the 1974 treaty and its ear­lier Pro­to­cols.

The Athens Con­ven­tion de­clares a car­rier li­able for dam­age suf­fered by a pas­sen­ger re­sult­ing from death, per­sonal in­jury or dam­age to lug­gage if the in­ci­dent caus­ing the dam­age oc­curred in the course of the car­riage and was due to the fault or ne­glect of the car­rier. Such fault or ne­glect is pre­sumed, un­less the con­trary is proved.

The memo said car­ri­ers can limit their li­a­bil­ity un­less they acted with in­tent to cause such dam­age, or reck­lessly and with knowl­edge that such dam­age would prob­a­bly re­sult. For the death of, or per­sonal in­jury to, a pas­sen­ger, this limit of li­a­bil­ity was set at 46,666 Spe­cial Draw­ing Rights (SDR) per car­riage in the 1974 con­ven­tion.

In case of ship­ping in­ci­dents, the 2002 Pro­to­col sub­stan­tially raises those lim­its to 250,000 SDR per pas­sen­ger on each dis­tinct oc­ca­sion, un­less the car­rier proves that the in­ci­dent re­sulted from an act of war, hos­til­i­ties, civil war, in­sur­rec­tion or a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non of an ex­cep­tional, in­evitable and ir­re­sistible char­ac­ter; or was wholly caused by an act or omis­sion done with the in­tent to cause the in­ci­dent by a third party.

If the loss ex­ceeds this limit, and also in case of non-ship­ping in­ci­dents, the car­rier is fur­ther li­able - up to a com­bined limit of 400,000 SDR per pas­sen­ger on each dis­tinct oc­ca­sion - un­less the car­rier proves that the in­ci­dent which caused the loss oc­curred with­out the fault or ne­glect of the car­rier.

As far as loss of, or dam­age to lug­gage is con­cerned, the car­rier’s limit of li­a­bil­ity varies, depend­ing on whether the loss or dam­age oc­curred in re­spect of cabin lug­gage, of a ve­hi­cle and/or lug­gage car­ried in or on it, or in re­spect of other lug­gage.

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