Enterprise

The tendency is for courts now to be more flexible in assessing fair rates of interest in limitation actions. An out of date fixed rate is rejected in favour of modern rates; furthermore, considerations of public policy are not necessarily considered relevant. No lien or other right in respect of any ship or property shall affect the proportion in which the Funds are distributed. Article 7 of the 1976 Convention deals with limitation in respect of passenger claims. Article 7 appears on the surface to be in direct conflict with Article 7 of the Athens Convention which sets out the limitation figure for passenger claims. Although the actual limitation figure in each convention (it is pure coincidence that each is Article 7) is the same (46, 686 SDR or units of account), the limit under the Athens Convention is calculated by multiplying that figure by the number of passengers who are actually on board and are travelling and are injured/killed. Under the 1976 (London) Convention, the limit is fixed, on the contrary, at an amount reached by multiplying that same figure (46,666 SDR) by the number of passengers which the ship is allowed by its certificate to carry. This means that the limitation fund under the 1976 Convention is not in the least influenced by the actual number of passengers on board and travelling and/or claiming. There is a different figure under the Athens Convention where the carrier has his principal place of business in the U.K. How can these two separate Articles in separate Conventions dealing with exactly the same subject-matter be reconciled? There is no ready answer to this as there has not as yet been a test case before the English courts on this particular point since the 1976 Convention came into effect in Britain; the Athens Convention having come into effect prior to that. The nearest approach to what might have become a test case was the tragic accident of the Herald of Free Enterprise but the matter did not come before the court on the subject of limitation of liability.