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Passenger Solutions: War Blue Cards
FAQs

What is the Athens Convention?
This is an International Convention adopted at a Conference, convened in Athens in 1974 and designed to consolidate and harmonize two earlier Brussels conventions dealing with the liability of the carrier relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage  and adopted in 1961 and 1967 respectively.

The Convention establishes a framework under which passengers carried on a seagoing vessel who have suffered death or bodily injury or whose property has been damaged may claim compensation under a strict liability regime. It declares a carrier liable for damage suffered as a result of the death of and/or personal injury to a passenger and the loss of or damage to luggage if the incident causing the damage occurred in the course of the carriage and was due to the fault or neglect of the carrier. However, unless the carrier acted with intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damage would probably result, he can limit his liability.
What main changes have been introduced to the 1974 Athens Convention by 2002 Athens Protocol?
The protocol raises the limits liability substantially from 46,666 SDR to 250,000 SDR. It also introduces compulsory insurance for not less than 250,000 SDR (approx.US$360,000) per passenger on each distinct occasion. If the proven loss exceeds the limit, the carrier is further liable up to a limit of 400,000 SDR (approx.US$575,000) per passenger on each distinct occasion unless the carrier proves that the incident which caused the loss occurred without the fault or neglect of the carrier.

The limits contained in the Protocol set a maximum limit, empowering but not obliging national courts to compensate for death, injury or damage up to these limits.

It also introduces other mechanisms to assist passengers in obtaining compensation, based on well-accepted principles applied in existing liability and compensation regimes dealing with environmental pollution. The Protocol also includes an "opt-out" clause, enabling State Parties to retain or introduce higher limits of liability (or unlimited liability) in the case of carriers who are subject to the jurisdiction of their courts.
What are the States that have ratified the Convention?
As of January 2018 following States have ratified the Convention:

Albania
Belgium
Belize
Bulgaria
Croatia
Denmark
Finland
France
Greece
Ireland
Latvia
Lithuania
Malta
Marshall Islands
Montenegro
Netherlands
Norway
Palau
Panama
Portugal
Romania
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Syrian Arab Republic
United Kingdom
What is Passenger Liability Regulation (PLR)?
This is Regulation (“EC”) No 392/2009 of the European Parliament on the Liability of Carriers of Passengers by Sea in the Event of Accidents.  PLR implements the main provisions of the 1974 Athens Convention (as amended by the 2002 Athens Protocol) and provides a liability and compulsory insurance system for death of and/or personal injury to passengers and loss of and/or damage to luggage and vehicles.

It applies to any international carriage where

(a) the ship is flying the flag of or is registered in a Member State; or
(b) the contract of carriage has been made in a Member State; or 
(c) the place of departure or destination, according to the contract of carriage, is in a Member State.

PLR applies in all European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States from 31st December 2012 and shall apply to carriage by sea within a single Member State on ships of Classes A and B but Member States have the option either to defer application of the PLR to domestic sea-going voyages or to extend its application to other Classes. Certain Member States have implemented PLR on vessels of Classes C and D.
What is the "2006 Reservation"? More correctly: the IMO Reservation and Guidelines for Implementation of the Athens Convention of 19th October 2006
The aim of the reservation is to allow limitation of liability in respect of claims relating to war or terrorism.

The reservation limits the liability to lower of:

SDRs 250,000 in respect of each passenger on each distinct occasion; OR
SDRs 340,000,000 overall per ship on each distinct occasion.

The reservation introduced the need for the two Blue Cards, war and non-war.
What individual Member States have already (December 2014) made a decision on domestic sea-going voyages?
PLR to apply to domestic carriage and Class A, B, C and D vessels from 31/12/2012

Denmark
Finland
Netherlands

PLR to apply to Class A and B from 31/12/2012

Croatia
France
Poland
Sweden
Ireland (Class A only)

PLR not to apply to domestic carriage until 31/12/2016 for Class A vessels and 31/12/2018 for Class B vessels

Belgium
Cyprus
Estonia
Germany
Greece
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Portugal
Spain (31/12/2014 for Class A vessels)
UK
On what basis are domestic sea-going voyages divided into classes? Explain the meaning of each class.
Passenger ships are divided into the classes according to the sea area in which they operate.

‘Class A’ means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages other than voyages covered by Classes B, C and D.

‘Class B’ means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in the course of which it is at no time more than 20 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.

‘Class C’ means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in sea areas where the probability of exceeding 2.5 m significant wave height is smaller than 10% over a one-year period for all-year-round operation, or over a specific restricted period of the year for operation exclusively in such period (e.g. summer period operation), in the course of which it is at no time more than 15 miles from a place of refuge, nor more than 5 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.

‘Class D’ means a passenger ship engaged on domestic voyages in sea areas where the probability of exceeding 1.5 m significant wave height is smaller than 10 % over a one-year period for all-year-round operation, or over a specific restricted period of the year for operation exclusively in such period (e.g. summer period operation), in the course of which it is at no time more than 6 miles from a place of refuge, nor more than 3 miles from the line of coast, where shipwrecked persons can land, corresponding to the medium tide height.
What is an Athens 2002 PLR ‘Certificate of Insurance’?
This is a certificate issued by a Member State confirming required compulsory insurance under Athens 2002 PLR is in place. This certificate must be carried on board at all times. State authorities will require the submission of separate War Risks and Non-war Risks blue cards to issue this certificate.
What is a ‘Blue Card’?
This is an insurance undertaking issued by an insurer or a panel of insurers pursuant to Article 4bis of the 2002 Athens Convention. States will require a war risk and a non-war risk blue card to issue the ‘Certificate of Insurance’.
What documents are required to issue a ‘War Blue Card’?
SPS requires the following to bind a new vessel and issue a war blue card:

Completed (online or paper) application form
Duly signed quotation issued by SPS
Excess War P & I cover confirmation by an International Group P & I Club or an approved P & I insurer 

SPS requires the following to renew and bind an existing vessel and issue a war blue card:

Updated information sheet (SPS will e-mail in advance before renewal date)
Duly signed quotation issued by SPS
Excess War P & I cover confirmation by an International Group P & I Club or an approved P & I insurer
What war P & I insurance covers are required for a SPS ‘War Blue Card’?
A primary insurance cover as in a) and an excess cover obtained through an International Group P & I Club as in b) or other approved excess war P&I cover as in c)

a) P & I War Risks Insurances (Hull) provided as a separate limit to the Carrier's or the Performing Carrier’s Hull and Disbursements War Risks policies to at least the aggregate of the insured value of the Hull and insured amounts in respect of Disbursements of the Carrier’s or the Performing Carrier’s ship or USD 100,000,000, whichever is the lower and on terms providing cover as per the Institute Protection and Indemnity War Strikes Clauses - Hulls Time CL.345 (20/7/87) and/or equivalent War P & I clauses (which to be agreed by Insurers).

And

b) P & I War Risks (International Group P & I Clubs) as provided as an adjunct to the entry of the Carrier’s or the Performing Carrier’s ship into an International Group P & I Club. Such entry means an unrestricted entry into a Protection and Indemnity Association which is a member of the International Group of P & I Clubs or other Insurer of P & I risks as approved by Slip Leader endorsed to include cover against the risk of War for an amount not less than USD 500,000,000) and/or as may be specifically agreed by Insurers).

Or

c) Excess P & I War risks provided by Insurers of P & I risks other than a P & I Club.
What needs to be endorsed onto the existing primary war P & I insurance policy regarding the ‘War Blue Card’?
Owners and/or their agents are to be asked to confirm that the insurers of the P & I War Risks Insurances (Hull) have endorsed the following onto their policy(ies):

"This policy is Primary and it is accepted that the Athens 2002 PLR Guarantee is in part contingent upon this policy not responding for all or part of valid Athens 2002 PLR claims and that the Athens PLR Guarantee shall not be deemed to be double insurance".
What licensed passenger capacity is subject to PLR compliance?
Thirteen and above.
What is SDR?
Special Drawing Rights (“SDR”) is a monetary reserve currency, created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1969, which operates as a supplement to the existing reserves of member countries. SDRs can be thought of as an artificial currency used by the IMF and defined as a "basket of national currencies".