Racette v. Norwegian Cruise Line

In Carriage of Passengers by Sea on (Updated )

Précis: Athens Convention claims cannot be heard in a jurisdiction where the carrier does not have a place of business in that same jurisdiction.

Facts: This was a decision of the Court of Quebec in which two actions arising out of the same facts were heard jointly. In both decisions the plaintiff claimed damages after their child fell ill while on the defendant cruise ship and the cruise ship did not have the medical equipment on board to treat the child. As a result the plaintiffs disembarked the boat in Nassau to have the child treated at a private clinic. The plaintiffs sued Norwegian Cruise Line and also Vasco, the travel agent who sold them the cruise package. Norwegian argued that the Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the claim and sought dismissal of the action against it, on the basis that Norwegian did not carry on business in Quebec or Canada. Vasco also sought dismissal of the action on the basis that she was not responsible for services obtained aboard the cruise ship.

Decision: The Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim against Norwegian

Held: The Court examined whether the Quebec Consumer Protection Act applied to the claim and found that since the plaintiffs embarked on the cruise in New York, disembarked in the Bahamas and flew back to New York, there was no attachment of the claim to Quebec. The Court then considered if maritime law applied to the claim, noting the provisions of the Athens Convention in the Marine Liability Act, with particular reference to Article 17 of the convention which pertains to the “Competent Jurisdiction”. The Court found that Norwegian did not carry on business in Canada or Quebec and thus this Court was not a competent jurisdiction as defined by Article 17(1)(a).