The death and injury sustained by passengers and crew in the tragic Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster in January 2012 is a tragedy that no-one will want to see repeated.
What made the tragedy worse was the callous nature in which Captain Schettino abandoned his ship and his reckless disregard for the safety of his crew and passengers in steering the Costa Concordia perilously close to rocks, placing the cruise ship in danger.
The judgement handed down by the Court against the Captain considered the conviction of the Captain and the plight of the people injured and loved ones left behind.
Compensation claims against the owners of the Costa Concordia will already have started. There will be many Accident at Sea Claims now which would have been faced with some difficulty before the trial because of the level of damages those victims are entitled to claim.
The shipping company was essentially able to limit the amount of compensation it was obliged to pay out to the victims under what is commonly called The Athens Convention. The extent of the liability is limited to what is known as Special Drawing Rights and this equates to £42,932 per passenger.
This is likely to be far below what some of the claims are worth and hence the importance of the trial and judgement. The Judgement from the Italian Court indicated the shipping company should pay greater compensation than it would be required to pay under The Athens Convention.
The Court must have ruled in favour of an exception to the limit the amount of fatal accident compensation. This ruling is made possible by finding that the Captain had acted recklessly, in the knowledge that the likely outcome of steering close to rocks would be a collision causing severe damage to the vessel or sinking the ship.
Tristan Hallam is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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