Basic principles of English law

Read the decision in Norfolk v My Travel Group PLC, and in 1000 words explain the issues involved in their context, and critically examine the decision. "Time limits are like a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of every lawyer. One of the first things lawyers must do when handling a legal dispute is to check if there is still time to pursue the matter. If not, they run the risk of the sword falling on their head. But finding out whether a claim is time-barred is not always easy. " (Christoph Hasche, a lawyer in Germany) I think this quote is relevant because it gives a brief description of what a 'time barred' case is.

There are many issues that arise in this case, the first, the question, 'should we be able to claim compensation for our personal injuries or mis-haps and if yes, to what extent? ' Also, you have to ask, 'was the problem caused by the claimant or were they acting in a dangerous way? ' Also, 'was the problem just a cause of nature that wasn't caused by someone doing something improperly? ' In this particular case, Mr and Mrs Norfolk were on a package holiday which included a cruise on a ship from Palma, Spain on September 18th 1999.

Their holiday was going well until September 30th 1999 when Mrs Norfolk slipped over in the lift of the cruise ship and injured herself. Mr Norfolk is now trying to claim compensation from My Travel Group PLC for his wife's losses for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, and also including enjoyment of the rest of their holiday. Personally, I think that people should take more responsibility for their actions instead of claiming compensation for their injuries etc that were usually their fault and would have been avoidable if they were a bit more careful.

In this case, it is unclear if there was a sign, warning passengers of the slippery surface or if it was a splash of water from the sea. If there wasn't a warning sign, there may have been a case of someone doing their job improperly so there maybe a reason to claim compensation. If there was just a splash of water from the sea in the lift, I don't think it is really fair to say any of the cruise ships staff were in the wrong, it is simply an incident of misfortune. Anybody travelling onboard a ship of any description should be aware that there might be a splash of water every now and then.

In this case, the water may have run into the lift. The law has strict time limits to how long you can claim compensation after the event; these time limits vary from country to county so when the event happens out at sea, there is a question about which countries rules you have to follow in court. The Athens Convention was established in 1974 and has been part of English law from shortly after that date. It decided the maximum amount that can be claimed for all different types of cases and the amount of time the claimant has after the event.

The convention also says "The provisions of the Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea as set out in Part 1 of Schedule 6 (hereinafter in this section and in Part 2 of that Schedule referred to as 'The Convention') shall have the force of law in the United Kingdom. " This means that there is a two year time limit on this case because it has to follow rules of the UK. So when Mr Norfolk lodged the claim in September 25th 2002 he was already around 12 months late to claim any compensation under English law.

I think that two years is plenty long enough to make a claim because people's memories will become faded over time. It should be made a well known fact that there is this time limit to save peoples time and money. I think that, ideally, all countries should have the same, two year time limit, to avoid complications. Also, I think holiday insurance should be made a legal requirement, as is motor insurance. Then claims like this wouldn't have to go to court and waste peoples time. Mrs Norfolk could have claimed compensation straight away, instead of waiting for three years to find her case unsuccessful.

I expect the reason for this not being the case is that holiday insurance premiums would be too expensive for holiday makers to afford and people would take advantage of the system, just like they do with motor cars. It would make taxes rise even more to pay for people's compensation claims. I am surprised that the case actually got into court because any decent lawyer would have told Mr and Mrs Norfolk that the case was 'time barred' straight away. Even though they aren't expected to know everything about law, I thought they would look up the information first.

The court relied on authorities connected with Air Travel, and applied the principle formulated by Lord Hope in Sidhu v British Airways [1997]2 WLR 26, where his lordship said: "… what was sought to be achieved was a uniform international code which could be applied by the courts of all the high contracting parties without reference to the rules of their own domestic law. " So, the present case has the merit of uniformity and gives the basic principles of English law. Steve Buckingham – MEL120 – Norfolk v My Travel Group PLC essay – 6th March 2004 Steve Buckingham – MEL120 – Norfolk v My Travel Group PLC essay – 6th March 2004