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Williams & Debling v Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd

[2011] 20 – 22 June and 15 July, Unreported, QB (Admiralty Court)


Claim brought by 4 Claimants against a cruise line company. While re-joining the cruise liner while it was alongside in Bilbao, two of the Claimants fell into the sea from the gangplank when the mooring lines on the vessel failed and it swung out from its berth. The claim was defended on the basis that the failure of the mooring lines was the result of an entirely unexpected and unforeseeable extreme weather in the form of a severe gust of wind. Both parties relied on expert opinion evidence from Master Mariners. The Claimants were successful in establishing liability. It was found that the Claimants could rely on article 3(3) of the Athens Convention and on res ipsa loquitur. However, it was also found that they had succeeded in proving that negligence or fault was the cause of their injuries quite apart from the assistance of article 3(3) and the evidential maxim.