Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Athens Passenger Convention Definition:

Formally, the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea (PAL), 1974, an international treaty which establishes a regime of liability for damage suffered by passengers carried on a seagoing vessel.

A Conference, convened in Athens in 1974, adopted the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974.

The Convention governs the timing and limitation of claims for passengers and their luggage.

According to the International Maritime Organization:

"The Convention establishes a regime of liability for damage suffered by passengers carried on a seagoing vessel.  It declares a carrier liable for damage or loss suffered by a passenger if the incident causing the damage occurred in the course of the carriage and was due to the fault or neglect of the carrier.

"However, unless the carrier acted with intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damage would probably result, he can limit his liability.  For the death of, or personal injury to, a passenger, this limit of liability is set at 46,666 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) (about US$61,000) per carriage. The 2002 Protocol, when it enters into force, will substantially raise those limits.

"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."

In Canada, the Convention is contained as an annex to the Marine Liability Act.

In Carriage of Passengers, in regads to the law in Canada, the author writes:

"(T)he Convention (is) applicable to both domestic and international carriage of passengers in ships of all sorts on inland lakes and rivers as well as the high seas. In addition, persons (not being master, crew or employees) on board ships used for commercial or public purposes are governed by the Convention regardless of the existence of a contract of carriage.

"... the carrier under the Athens Convention is liable for damages suffered due to the death or personal injury of the passenger or for the loss of or damage to the passenger’s luggage where (1) the incident which caused the damage occurred during the course of carriage and (2) the damage was due to the fault or neglect of the carrier or his servants or agents acting within the scope of their employment.

"The burden of proving the incident which caused the damage occurred during the course of carriage is on the claimant. In cases of shipwreck, collision, stranding, explosion, fire or defect in the ship, the fault or neglect of the carrier is presumed. Similarly, for claims in respect of loss of or damage to luggage the fault of the carrier is presumed. In all other cases, the burden of proving the fault or neglect of the carrier is on the claimant."

The Athens Convention It is the marine equivalent to the Warsaw Convention in the airline industry.

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