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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Professor Simon Baughen

Professor Simon Baughen was appointed as Professor of Shipping Law in September 2013 (previously Reader at the University of Bristol Law School). Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law for several years before joining academia. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law, but also include the law of trusts and the environmental law implications of the activities of multinational corporations in the developing world. Simon's book on Shipping Law, has run to seven editions (soon to be eight) and is already well-known to academics and students alike as by far the most learned and approachable work on the subject. Furthermore, he is now the author of the very well-established practitioner's work Summerskill on Laytime. He has an extensive list of publications to his name, including International Trade and the Protection of the Environment, and Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs - Closing the Governance Gap. He has also written and taught extensively on commercial law, trusts and environmental law. Simon is a member of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, a University Research Centre within the School of Law, and he currently teaches at Swansea on the LLM in:Carriage of Goods by Sea, Land and Air; Charterparties Law and Practice; International Corporate Governance.

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