Disembarkation and Athens Convention. A big Deal for an injured passenger.


The claimant was returning to Deal following a sea fishing trip. The boat was winched up a shingle beach and the claimant disembarked by stepping from the boat onto a platform at the top of a set of freestanding steps which led down on to the shingle. The claimant fell on stepping on to the shingle and was injured. Did the claim fall within the Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 (the Athens Convention)? If so, the claim was outside the two-year limitation period in the Convention. Article 1(8) of the Athens Convention defines “‘carriage’ as covering: “(a) … the period during which the passenger and/or his cabin luggage are on board the ship or in the course of embarkation or disembarkation…”

In Collins v Lawrence in the Canterbury County Court, HHJ Simpkiss held that the injuries were sustained during disembarkation and the claim was therefore time barred. The method of disembarkation was down the steps to the shingle and was not completed until the passenger was on the shingle.

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