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Norfolk v MyTravel Group PLC

The Claimant purchased a package holiday on-board the cruise ship 'Carousel' on which she suffered a holiday accident and nasty injury. Unfortunately she issued court proceedings outside the 2 year limitation period strictly imposed by the Athens Convention, and consequently was time barred from pursuing her holiday accident compensation claim.

The action was time barred by virtue of article 16 of the Convention and she could not rely on the Package Travel Regulations 1992 – which allow a 3 year time period in which to bring a claim. Article 14 of the Athens Convention provides that 'no action for damages for …personal injury to a passenger … shall be brought against the carrier otherwise than in accordance with this convention'.

The Claimant unsuccessfully argued that MyTravel (now part of Thomas Cook) had not incorporated the provision of the Athens Convention into the package holiday contract, and therefore the tour operator could not rely on its shorter limitation period. The Defendant argued that the Convention applied automatically as a matter of law.

The judge concluded that the claim arose out of a contract of international carriage, and that the Convention was intended to provide a uniform code applicable to international carriage by sea.

Where a package holiday includes international carriage by sea and the defendant is the performing or contracting carrier, the Athens Convention prevails over the Package Travel Regulations at least in respect of those parts of the holiday concerned with sea carriage – provided it is of course incorporated into the holiday contract.

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Dated: 21/04/2010

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