Shipping Minister David Jamieson underlined the UK's support for an improved compensation scheme for death or injury to fare-paying passengers or for loss of luggage, when he signed the 2002 Athens Protocol at the International Maritime Organisation IMO in London.
Once it enters into force the Protocol will provide for increased financial protection for death or personal injury claims through:
- strict carrier liability;
- compulsory insurance to cover carrier liability, and a
- significant increase in the carriers limit of liability for claims from fare paying passengers.
These measures will make it much easier for claimants to recover compensation promptly, and efficiently, by providing them with the right to take direct action against the shipowner's insurer.
Mr Jamieson, said:
"Signing the 2002 Athens Protocol emphasises the UK Government's commitment to ensuring that fare paying passengers on international voyages are able to receive compensation at realistic levels for death or personal injury claims. I hope, and expect, that we will not have to wait too long for the Protocol to take effect."
When the Protocol comes into force fare paying passengers on international voyages will be entitled to receive maximum compensation of approximately Â£320,000 per person. Under the current Convention the maximum amount that can be received for death or personal injury on international voyages is approximately Â£37,000 per person, unless the ship operator is based in the UK where a national limit applies of some Â£245,000 per person.
UK signature of the Athens Protocol is the initial step towards formal ratification. Formal ratification will take place once the Protocol is incorporated into National Law. The Protocol will only come into force Internationally once 10 States have ratified it.