Claims for Passenger Injury and Damage to Luggage

The Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea (Athens Convention) establishes a scheme to provide compensation in the case of death or injury to passengers on ships engaged in international voyages or where luggage has been lost or damaged. The Athens Convention was extensively amended by a Protocol adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2002 which entered into force on 23 April 2014. While the 2002 Protocol has entered into force internationally, Australia is not a Party to it.

In accordance with the Athens Convention, as amended by the 2002 Protocol:

  • the carrier is strictly liable for death, injury, damage or loss resulting from a “shipping incident” (defined as shipwreck, capsizing, collision or stranding of the ship, explosion or fire in the ship, or defect in the ship);
  • the carrier is able to limit liability in accordance with the liability limits set out in the Convention;
  • carriers are required to be insured up to 250,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per passenger in respect of ships which are licensed to carry more than 12 passengers; and
  • claims for damages may be brought directly against the insurer.

A shipowner's liability limits under the Athens Convention are as follows:

  • 250,000 SDR for death or injury in respect of each passenger
    —that liability limit increases to 400,000 SDR unless the carrier can prove that the incident which caused the death or injury occurred without the fault or neglect of the carrier
  • 2,250 SDR per passenger for loss of or damage to cabin luggage
  • 3,375 SDR per passenger for other luggage
  • 12,700 SDR per vehicle

A description of the Athens Convention is available on the IMO's website.

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Last Updated: 18 May, 2015