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Contribution proceedings for accidents at sea

15 July 2015

Further to the legal opinion posted in May 2015, the Court of Appeal heard this appeal on 9 June. The court has unanimously allowed the appeal, bringing clarity to the liability of sea carriers to contribute in personal injury claims.

The Lord Justices accepted our argument and gave judgment stating that the employer’s claim against the boat company was not a claim to which the provisions of the Athens Convention were directly applicable. We now know for certain that the Convention deals only with claims by passengers against carriers. We also now have a clear judgment that states the language of Article 16 is not such as to extinguish the right, it merely bars the remedy. The meaning of the language used not the assumption of what the language is likely to mean or how it might be understood in other jurisdictions was key. As always, the natural meaning of words used in a statute or Convention was applicable, the words given their ordinary meaning.

This welcome judgment is the first and only authority on how the Convention should be interpreted. It provides relief to parties seeking a contribution from sea carriers and will have wider ramifications in travel and marine law.

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