The Athens Convention( A Convention is a treaty) has never been ratified by the United States. It has been cropping up in many passenger tickets and passengers should be aware of the possible ramifications.
Some cruise lines have written into their passenger tickets that the Athens Convention will apply when the passenger embarks and disembarks in a foreign port. Example: An American citizen books in the U.S. a cruise for the Baltic or Norwegian Fjords embarking from London(Dover), England or Copenhagen and disembarking in London(Dover) or Copenhagen.. The passenger ticket has a clause advising:" As to any cruise that does not begin, end or call at a port in the United States of America they shall be entitled to any and all damages limitations, immunities and rights and for personal injury or death."
The Athens Convention( A Convention is a treaty) has never been ratified by the United States. It has been cropping up in some cruise lines passenger tickets. Passengers should be aware of the possible ramifications. Read your passenger ticket and ask for a copy before you book a cruise before the cancellation penalty can be enforced. It seems the primary object of inserting such a clause in the passenger ticket is to limit liability in the event of a lawsuit. The Athens Convention limit of liability for personal injury or death is 46,666 Special Drawing Rights (SDR), which on May 27, 2002 would be about $59,000 U.S. dollars.
It would be interesting to learn how U.S. courts would interpret and enforce the Athens Convention. In past court cases they have enforced it when the passenger ticket required filing suit in some foreign country and it was felt the Forum Clause was not unreasonable. In the court case of Chan v. Society Expeditions, cited 123 F3rd, 1287 who was injured while a passenger aboard the "World Explorer " the Federal District Court of Appeals refused enforce the Athens Convention. The court held that U.S. Maritime law was applicable and the 46,666 SDR(then about $70,000 ) was wholly inadequate for the severe injuries sustained by Chan .
This case should not be a precedent since the Federal Courts have proven to be consistently inconsistent.
Anyone Interested in the Athens Convention they can get a copy from:
International Maritime Organization
4 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7SR
e-mail address: http://www.imo.org
This article is not intended to offer legal advice; for that rely on an experienced lawyer. It has been written to provide information and educational purposes on the Forum Selection Clause that has proven to be so troublesome. READ YOUR PASSENGER TICKET.
"Forum Clauses are designed to put a thumb on the carrier's side of the scale of justice."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Steven in his dissent on Carnival v. Shute