Friesen v. Norwegian Cruise Lines et al.

In Carriage of Passengers by Sea on (Updated )

This was an application by the Defendant to stay proceedings commenced in British Columbia on the grounds of a jurisdiction clause contained in the passenger ticket. The Plaintiff, a British Columbia resident, was injured on an Alaskan cruise ship which had departed from the port of Vancouver. The Plaintiff argued that the matter was governed by the Athens Convention; Article 17 of which gave her the right to commence the proceedings in British Columbia. The Court, however, held that the Athens Convention was not applicable since Canada had not enacted the Convention at the time of the Plaintiff’s accident. Moreover, the fact that the vessel was registered in the Bahamas, a signatory to the Convention, was held to not be sufficient to make Bahamian law applicable. The Court therefore held that the test set out in The Eleftheria, [1969] 2 All E.R. 641, was applicable and the onus was on the Plaintiff to establish a strong cause for not enforcing the jurisdiction clause. The Court held that the Plaintiff had met this onus in that virtually all of the witnesses resided in British Columbia and a stay of the action in favour of Florida would come close to denying the Plaintiff access to a court at all.