Athens Convention

With the exception of the unfortunate lady who was indirectly responsible for the advent of the Himalaya Clause, no reference has been made to passengers in this course; all discussions, so far, have been concerned with cargo.  The maritime world has, however, taken its responsibility and liability towards passengers very seriously; it is, after all, well within living memory when the majority of overseas travel was by ship.  Whilst ships as a means of taking passengers from one place to another is now almost entirely in the hands of the operators of relatively short ferry crossings, the cruise industry is expanding almost exponentially. For this reason the Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 (The Athens Convention) fulfils the same sort of undertakings, exemptions and limits of liability for passengers as the Hague-Visby Rules do for cargo. Unlike Hague-Visby, which has its own Act of Parliament in the UK (the Carriage of goods by Sea Act 1971) the Athens Convention is contained within Schedule 6 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 One notable difference between Hague-Visby and Athens is that, with cargo, the level of compensation is relatively low on the principle that cargo owners are commercial people and should be fully aware of the need to insure their goods.  Thus the limitation for cargo under Hague-Visby is a mere 666.67 units of account (SDRs) which is in the region of US$850 per package. Take note that any reference here to dollar amounts are very approximate because SDRs fluctuate like any other currency. The conversion rate is published in most countries in their financial press. Passengers are not expected to be so commercially minded as cargo owners and human life is rated higher than a package of goods so that the limit for loss of life or serious personal injury is 46,666 SDRs – say approximately US$61,000.  Continuing the theme that passengers are less commercially minded than cargo owners, the limit for loss or damage to cabin luggage (baggage) is 833 SDRs and for baggage in the hold, 1200 SDRs.  For a personal motor vehicle (including its contents) the limit is 3,333 SDRs.