End of transitional regime
As of January 1 2017, the EU Passenger Liability Regulation (391/2009) also applies to Class A ships sailing Italian domestic voyages, as defined under the EU Directive on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships (98/18/EC). The scope of application of the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 and the International Maritime Organisation Protocol 2002 now extend beyond international voyages.
Although Italy has never ratified the Athens convention, its rules were made compulsory in Italy through the EU Passenger Liability Regulation, which effectively introduced the Athens convention liability regime to all EU member states.
The regulation limits the liability of shipowners regarding the carriage of passengers and their luggage and introduces compulsory insurance accordingly. It came into force the day after its publication and took effect from December 31 2012.
Upon its entry into force, the EU Passenger Liability Regulation was immediately applicable to vessels sailing international voyages, although it contained transitional provisions by virtue of which, in respect of carriage by sea within a single member state on board Class A ships, member states could choose to defer the regulation's application "until four years after the date of its application".
Class A ships are defined under Article 4 of the EU Directive on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships as passenger ships engaged in domestic voyages other than voyages covered by Classes B, C and D. Class B, C and D ships are passenger ships engaged in domestic voyages which are progressively less exposed to the dangers of the sea.
The transitional regime was intended to allow EU member states more time to prepare the application of the EU Passenger Liability Regulation regime to vessels normally of minor tonnage. Italy is a country of shipowners, many of which employ their vessels in domestic trade, and it was therefore one of the EU member states that elected to defer the application of the EU Passenger Liability Regulation to internal markets.
As the EU Passenger Liability Regulation took effect from December 31 2012, the four-year deferral expired on December 31 2016 bringing the transitional regime to an end.
As of January 1 2017, Italian Class A passenger ships are subject to the EU Passenger Liability Regulation. Accordingly, such ships can limit their liability, pursuant to the Athens convention, and must fulfil the relevant compulsory insurance duties.
For further information on this topic please contact Lawrence Dardani at Dardani Studio Legale by telephone (+39 010 576 1816) or email ([email protected]). The Dardani Studio Legale website can be accessed at www.dardani.it.