The Passenger Liability Regulation (PLR) will apply in all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) from 31 December 2012.
The Regulation essentially gives effect to the key provisions of the Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974 as amended by the 2002 Protocol together with the 2006 IMO Reservation and Guidelines for Implementation of the Convention covering war risks.
The Regulation applies to all seagoing vessels licensed to carry more than 12 passengers engaged in the following trades:
- an international voyage where (a) the ship is calling at a port in an EU/EEA State; or (b) the ship is flying the flag of or is registered in an EU/EEA State
- a domestic sea going voyage in an EU/EEA State which (a) has not deferred the application to Class A & B vessels or (b) has extended the Regulation to include Class C & D vessels (see footnote).
Notably, the Regulation imposes an obligation for vessels subject to the Regulation to carry a certificate of financial security. The certificate is provided by the competent authority in the vessel’s flag state or, if the flag state is not an EU Member State, by an EU Member State. See list of contact details to competent authorities obtained by International Group so far in attached file below.
The flag state will issue the certificate against evidence that proper insurance is in place which is a blue card issued by the insurer . However, the PLR encompasses certain risks (acts of terrorism) that are excluded from P&I cover and hence the Club, in line with all other IG P&I Clubs, cannot provide one single blue card covering all risks in the PLR.
As a result, members need to obtain two separate blue cards; one PLR non war risk blue card that the Club will issue at no cost and a PLR war risk blue card that the Club will issue against a premium decided by the underlying underwriter. Members are invited to contact the Club in order to obtain both these blue cards.
For more detailed information about the PLR please see circulars issued:
'Class A' means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages other than voyages covered by Classes B, C and D.
'Class B' means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in the course of which it is at no time more than 20 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.
'Class C' means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in sea areas where the probability of exceeding 2.5 m significant wave height is smaller than 10 % over a one-year period for all-year-round operation, or over a specific restricted period of the year for operation exclusively in such period (e.g. summer period operation), in the course of which it is at no time more than 15 miles from a place of refuge, nor more than 5 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.
'Class D' means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in sea areas where the probability of exceeding 1.5 m significant wave height is smaller than 10 % over a one-year period for all-year-round operation, or over a specific restricted period of the year for operation exclusively in such period (e.g. summer period operation), in the course of which it is at no time more than 6 miles from a place of refuge, nor more than 3 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.
2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention
The Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea from 1974 (“The Convention”) was amended by the 2002 Protocol (The “Protocol”), on 23 April 2014. The Protocol entered into force together with the 2006 IMO Reservation and Guidelines for Implementation of the Convention covering war risks for seventeen States.
The Protocol significantly revises and updates the passenger liability regime for seagoing vessels. The Convention applies to the international carriage of passengers and luggage where the ship is flying the flag of or is registered in a state party to the Convention, the contract of carriage has been made in a state party to the Convention or the place of departure or destination (according to the contract of carriage) is in a state party to the Convention.
The Convention renders a carrier liable for damage or loss suffered by a passenger where the incident giving rise to the damage occurred during the carriage and was caused by the fault and/or neglect of the carrier, but allows carriers to limit their liability except where the carrier acted with the intention of causing the damage, or recklessly and knowing that the damage that was caused was the likely result of its actions. In respect of liability for the death of, or personal injury to, a passenger, this limit was capped at 46,666 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per carriage (approx US$71,800 at current rates).
Key provisions of the Protocol
From 23 April 2014, the following limits apply to the carrier’s liability for passenger injury and death, per passenger, per occasion:
- Strict liability for claims of up to 250,000 SDRs (approx US$385,000), unless the incident was intentionally caused by a third party, or resulted from an act of war, hostilities, civil war, insurrection or force majeure.
For claims above this limit, there is a further limit of 400,000 SDRs (approx US$616,000), unless the incident occurred without the fault or neglect of the carrier.
The Protocol also increases the limits for loss of or damage to luggage or vehicles per carriage as follows:
- Cabin luggage claims limited to 2,250 SDRs per passenger (approx US$3,500).
Vehicle claims (including all luggage carried in/on the vehicle) limited to 12,700 SDRs per vehicle (approx US$19,500).
Other luggage claims limited to 3,375 SDRs per passenger (approx US$5,200).
Finally, the Protocol introduces compulsory insurance of 250,000 SDRs per passenger. The ship’s registry must issue a certificate to evidence this, which the registry does against a Blue Card issued by the Club.
Certification requirements under PLR and the Protocol
The PLR and the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention contain essentially similar provisions. The question whether duplicate certificates of financial security is required is to date (25 April 2014) not entirely resolved. Should duplicate certificates be required, there is a risk that the member may need to obtain as many as four blue cards; two non-war and two war blue cards. Clubs, through the IG Secretariat, are in discussions with EU/EEA Members states, Convention States, EU and IMO to find a smooth solution. At present, the position as to certification requirement can be summarized as follows:
Only one certificate is required that is either (1) a Convention or Protocol certificate issued by a EU/EEA state or (2) a Convention certificate issued by a non EU or EEA state.
IG wait for confirmation whether Convention states will accept Protocol certificates issued by an EU/EEA state.
Members are until further notice recommended to obtain a certificate from any one of the following EU/EEA states that also are parties to the Convention since this seems to minimize risks of multiple certification requirements:
- United Kingdom
 Albania, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Marshall Islands, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Palau, Panama, Serbia, Syrian Arab Republic, Romania and