Commentary on “Arios Pagos”

Triantafyllos Stavrakidis, Commentary on the decision 2263/2013 of the Greek Supreme Court 2263/2013 (Arios Pagos) published in Hellenic Justice (Elliniki dikeosini) 6/2014.

 

This decision dealt with one of the most controversial issues in maritime law, that is the right to limitation for maritime claims, and it is considered to be a leading case in the field, as it was the first time that the Greek Supreme Court was invited to provide its opinion. The ship-owner has, in consistence with LLMC, the right to limit the amount of the due compensation for maritime claims, except if he commits a fault of a certain degree (willful misconduct), in which case there should a break in his limited liability. At international level there have been two approaches for the interpretation of the meaning of willful misconduct. The first embraced in common law and based on the literal interpretation of art. 4 LLMC favors the purpose of establishing a virtually unbreakable limit on liability and the second is met in certain civil law countries (i.e. France) and favors a broader interpretation of willful misconduct and thus an easier loss of the right to limitation. The aforementioned decision stands by the common law approach and the author spells out the criteria that are to be met for the ship-owner to lose his right to limit his liability. In parallel, he develops the impact of each of the two suggested interpretations for both the ship-owner and the maritime creditors.

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