Sarah Stewart and Chris Deacon from Stewarts’ Aviation and International Injury department attended the Embassy Consular Conference at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London on 21 March 2019. Stewarts sponsored the event and manned an exhibition stand throughout the day.
Sarah and Chris joined a panel of speakers to discuss the complexities arising from accidents at sea resulting in death or serious injury. Their fellow panellists included the legal director of the IMO, Jan De Boer, as well as representatives from the International Transport Federation, the Apostleship of the Sea charity, and international funeral directors Rowland Brothers International.
Chris highlighted some of the legal challenges facing both passengers and seafarers who are seriously injured or killed when travelling on the high seas. Under the Athens Convention there are limits on the liability of carriers to passengers. This means that those who are seriously injured could be under-compensated unless they are able to show recklessness on the part of the carrier. In addition, Chris exposed how the balance of power in claims brought by seafarers is heavily weighted towards the employer. The law and jurisdiction that applies in a seafarer’s claim for serious injury is usually dependent on the flag state of the vessel or whether it was sailing in territorial or international waters at the time.
These cases require careful preparation and evidence gathering, including early requests for disclosure from the large shipping or cruise companies to identify the best route to securing damages.
Sarah spoke about the Aviation team’s extensive experience of assisting bereaved families and survivors of aviation accidents and incidents around the world. She explained how Stewarts can help consular staff when their nationals are involved.
This area of law is technically complex and often involves aviation laws of different countries. Delegates were surprised by the different levels of damages that might be recovered depending on the ‘roulette’ of where they are able to bring the claim.
The conference, organised by the Embassy Magazine, is recognised as the leading networking and information sharing event for consular staff and diplomats in the UK.
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