Passenger contracts (and private international law on passenger contracts)

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Over the course of the next few months, the content of this site will expand rapidly.

Among the topics we aim to cover, are the governance structures of EU maritime law, inland waterway transport, rules applying to seafarers, trade regulations, security issues, port regulations and competion law.

The carrier-passenger relationship is based on a service contract. In maritime transport, these service contracts can be distinguished in ferryboat contracts (seat-only travel) and cruiseship contracts (transport-accommodation-leisure package qualifying as ‘package travel’ under EU law). In both cases, EU consumer law bestows special protection to the maritime passenger who is considered the weaker party to the service contract (Recital 2 of the preamble to Reg. 1177/2010: ‘Since the maritime and inland waterway passenger is the weaker party to the transport contract, all passengers should be granted a minimum level of protection.’). As consumer contracts, unfair term control applies as well as regulations on fees for payment and additional payments.

EU law determines the choice of law for the underlying the contracts between passengers and carriers based on national law and also names the responsible court to rule on disputes arising from these contracts (private international law).

International law

UNIDROIT: Convention international relative au contrat de voyage (CCV). Available at the UNIDROIT web site.

European law

Primary law

Art. 12 TFEU, Art. 169 TFEU

Secondary law

Directive 90/314/EEC: On package travel, package holidays and package tours. Full text available at EUR-LEX.

Directive 93/13/EEC: On unfair terms in consumer contracts. The full text of the directive is available at EUR-LEX.

Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010: Concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway. OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, p. 1.

Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights (Art. 19 and 22). Available at EUR-LEX.

Private international law

Regulation 593/2008: On the law applicable to contractual obligations (‘Rome I’). OJ L 177, 4.7.2008, p. 6.

Regulation (EC) No 864/2007: On the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (‘Rome II’) – Art. 12. OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 40.

Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012: On jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1.

Cases before the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

Joint Cases C-585/08, Peter Pammer v Reederei Karl Schlüter GmbH & Co. KG and C- 144/09, Hotel Alpenhof GesmbH v Oliver Heller(2010) ECR I-12527.

Private international law on the carrier-passenger relationship

Jurisdiction – ‘Brussels I’ (Athens Convention)

Regulation (EU) 1215/2012 (‘Brussels I’)

Applicable law on contracts – ‘Rome I’

Regulation (EC) 593/2008 (‘Rome I’)

Package Travel – Articles 17-19 of ‘Brussels I’ Package Travel – Article 6 of ‘Rome I’
Contracts of carriage – General rules of ‘Brussels I’ Contracts of carriage – Article 5 of ‘Rome I’
Within scope of Athens Convention – Article 17 and 17bis AC – not applicable in EU
Mandatory Union law – Article 3(4) of ‘Rome I’
Scope-clause (Art. 6(2) Unfair Contract Terms Directive) – Article 23 of ‘Rome I’


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