Claims for Passenger Injury and Damage to Luggage

The Athens Convention

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has completed an examination of the regulatory impact of Australia's possible accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974, as amended by the 2002 Protocol (Athens Convention).

The Department has consulted with stakeholders and finalised a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on the possible accession by Australia to the Athens Convention. The RIS concludes that whilst there are benefits to passengers if Australia were to accede to the Athens Convention, there is no strong or urgent case for government action. Except in the event of a catastrophic incident, passengers have access to greater amounts of compensation under the current system.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Michael McCormack MP has decided Australia will not accede to the Athens Convention at this time. The Department will continue to monitor the situation in case circumstances change.

Discussion Paper

In November 2017 the Department of Infrastructure conducted a consultation process to inform consideration of Australia's possible accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974, as amended by the 2002 Protocol (Athens Convention).

  • Discussion Paper: Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea PDF: 810 KB

Submissions for this consultation process are now closed.

Submissions Received

Background

The Athens Convention

The Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 (1974 Convention) establishes a scheme to provide compensation in the case of death or injury to passengers on ships engaged in international voyages or where luggage has been lost or damaged.

The 1974 Convention was extensively amended by a Protocol adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2002 (2002 Protocol) which entered into force on 23 April 2014. Australia is party to neither the 1974 Convention nor the 2002 Protocol.

In accordance with the Athens Convention:

  • the carrier is strictly liable for death, injury, damage or loss resulting from a “shipping incident” (defined as shipwreck, capsizing, collision or stranding of the ship, explosion or fire in the ship, or defect in the ship)
  • the carrier is able to limit liability in accordance with the liability limits set out in the Convention
  • carriers are required to be insured up to 250,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per passenger in respect of ships which are licensed to carry more than 12 passengers
  • claims for damages may be brought directly against the insurer.

A shipowner's liability limits under the Athens Convention are as follows:

  • 250,000 SDR for death or injury in respect of each passenger
    • that liability limit increases to 400,000 SDR unless the carrier can prove that the incident which caused the death or injury occurred without the fault or neglect of the carrier
  • 2,250 SDR per passenger for loss of or damage to cabin luggage
  • 3,375 SDR per passenger for other luggage
  • 12,700 SDR per vehicle.

A detailed description of the Athens Convention is available in the discussion paper and on the IMO's website.

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Last Updated: 3 November, 2020