QCR Spring 2018: Definition of carriage under the Athens Convention
Collins v Lawrence  EWCA Civ 2268
The claimant went on a fishing trip on a boat owned by the defendant. In order to disembark, the practice was to winch the boat up onto a single beach, and then use free-standing, semi-permanent steps to descend onto the beach. The disembarkation equipment, i.e. the steps, were provided by the defendant. The claimant injured himself while disembarking and claimed damages for personal injury.
The claim turned on the definition of carriage under Article 1(8) of the Athens Convention for the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 as amended by the 2002 Protocol (the “Athens Convention”) which defines carriage as “the period during which the passenger and/or his cabin luggage are on board the ship or in the course of embarkation or disembarkation…However, with regard to the passenger, carriage does not include the period during which he is in a marine terminal or station or on a quay or in or on any other port installation” [emphasis added]. The judge at first instance found that disembarkation was not completed until the claimant was established safely on the beach. Therefore, the Athens Convention applied and the claim was time barred due to the two-year limitation period. The claimant sought permission to appeal against this decision but permission was denied.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the judge at first instance and found that the process of disembarkation under the Athens Convention covered the whole period of moving from the vessel to a safe position on the shore and while a person was still using equipment which facilitated disembarkation provided by the defendant, such as the steps in this case, the person was still in the process of disembarking. The court accordingly agreed with the judge at first instance that the claim falls under the Athens Convention and therefore the claim is time barred. The court found that the above claim is similar to circumstances in which a passenger is using the ship’s gangway or is transported to the shore by ship’s tenders. The court distinguished the above situations from circumstances in which a port installation is used during disembarkation.
This is a helpful decision as it clarifies the definition of carriage under the Athens Convention. It should be read in conjunction with Jennings v TUI UK Limited and The “Norwegian Jade”  EWCA Civ 2222.
Please click on the link below for the Club’s article on these cases, “Legal Update: key ruling on the definition of “carriage” under the Athens Convention”:
You may also be interested in:
QCR Spring 2018: Responsibility of a carrier for providing “hop on, hop off” tendering service during the cruise
Lawrence v NCL (Bahamas) Ltd (The “Norwegian Jade”)  EWCA Civ 2222
JENNINGS v TUI UK LIMITED (T/A THOMSON CRUISES)  EWHC 82 (Admlty)
QCR Winter 2018: Death of passenger on chartered vessel - When will the time bar be extended to three years under Athens Convention?
Mr Warner chartered a vessel operated by the defendant for the week 11 to 18 August 2012 for the purpose of diving. He died in a diving accident on 14 August 2012. The claimants were his widow and their under aged son, born in November 2011. The claim was lodged on 14 May 2015, more than two years but less than three years after the intended disembarkation, which was agreed to be 18 August 2012. The defendant argued that the claim was time barred.
The Court of Appeal has unanimously overturned the High Court decision in The Eternal Bliss  EWCA Civ 1712.