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Web alert: Athens Protocol 2002

16 April 2014

The 2002 Athens Protocol will come into effect on 23 April 2014.
 
The Protocol has already been in force in the EU pursuant to EU Regulation 392/2009 since December 31, 2012. It will be implemented in the UK by the Merchant Shipping Carriage of Passengers by Sea Regulations 2012.
The 2002 Protocol will apply to any international carriage if: 
 

  • the ship is registered in a State Party
  • the contract of carriage has been made in a State Party
  • the place of departure or destination, according to the contract of carriage, is in a State Party.

In short the 2002 Protocol substantially raises the carrier’s limits of liability for damage suffered by a passenger resulting from death, personal injury or damage to luggage.  Vessels covered by the 2002 Protocol are required to maintain insurance which meets the requirements of the 2002 Protocol and will need to obtain a certificate issued by a State Party attesting that such insurance is in force.
 
More specifically where loss is suffered as a result of the death of or personal injury to a passenger caused by a shipping incident the carrier is strictly liable up to 250,000 SDRs. (A shipping incident is defined as a shipwreck, capsizing, collision or stranding of the ship, explosion or fire in the ship, or defect in the ship). If the loss or damage is more than 250,000 SDRs, the carrier is further liable up to a limit of 400,000 SDRs unless the carrier can prove it was not at fault.
 
If the loss is not as a result of a shipping incident, the carrier is liable up to a limit of 400,000 SDRs, if the claimant can prove fault or negligence on the part of the carrier. The carrier and passenger may agree to a higher limit.
 
If the loss suffered is the result of war or terrorism, liability is limited to the lower of 250,000 SDRs per passenger or 340 million SDRs per ship.
With regards the insurance provisions ships licensed to carry more than 12 passengers are required to have insurance in place or some other form of financial security to cover liabilities up to 250,000 SDRs per passenger. For war and terrorism insurance the cover is limited to the lower of 250,000 SDRs per passenger or 340 million SDRs per ship. A claim for compensation may be brought directly against the insurer.
 
Where the compulsory insurance requirements apply, a vessel will require a certificate of insurance from a state party to the Convention. In order to obtain a state certificate, Members will need to obtain evidence from their insurers to present to the state party. This will usually take the form of a Blue Card issued by the Club for non-war risk liabilities and a separate Blue Card from an insurer or in respect of war risk liabilities.
 
Cover for the liabilities under the 2002 Protocol are already included in general terms by the Club under the cover requirements that were necessary for the European Passenger Liability Regulations which came into force in December 2012.
 
In addition the Club understands that the IG currently foresees no reason why non-EU state parties to the Athens Convention should not accept a Club issued Blue Card for the purposes of the Athens Convention compulsory insurance requirements, save that a number of states may still require a separate war and non-war Blue Card at this stage. It is understood that the IG is currently working with these states to ascertain whether a single Blue Card will be accepted in due course.