Cruise

Supreme Court awards cruise passengers up to $20k each following Scenic class action

Passengers who booked on Scenic’s ill-fated 2013 European river cruises have been awarded up to $20,635 each in damages, according to court documents published on Thursday.

On 14 April 2022, the NSW Supreme Court’s Justice Garling determined that David Moore and more than 30 other clamants should be awarded substantial damages after their cruise holidays were affected by flooding.

High water levels on the Rhine and Main Rivers meant Moore’s cruise started on a different vessel and was met with substantial disruptions including changing ships three times and spending many hours on busses.

Moore and his fellow passengers spent three days on a cruise ship instead of the advertised 10.

Moore was part of a class action against Scenic involving 1,500 other passengers who experienced disruptions on various other cruises run by the company.

Justice Peter Garling found Scenic Tours had breached Australian consumer law by not specifically warning passengers about weather disruptions.

He said the tour company “played down the significance of what was occurring on the rivers in Europe” and that the company should have given passengers the option to postpone or cancel their trip.

On 24 April 2020 Moore was awarded damages for “disappointment and distress” after the high court upheld his appeal for compensation.

According to Somerville Legal, who represented the claimants, Garling rejected a “last-ditch defence” by Scenic on Thursday, after the line argued it was unreasonable for passengers to rely upon Scenic’s expertise in providing river cruise services.

“This is an important victory confirming that group members are entitled to substantial compensation as a result of their treatment by Scenic,” Ben Hemsworth of Somerville Legal said.

“Many passengers used their life savings to experience a five-star luxury cruise of a lifetime.

“What they received from Scenic did not resemble what they paid for and the Court has ordered Scenic to pay compensation in recognition of what the group members had to endure.”

Hemsworth said the judgement will serve as a blueprint for the determination of the compensation to be paid to the remaining group members in this class action.

The class action against Scenic involves approximately 1,200 claimants and the Court’s judgment may see Scenic facing a damages bill of up to $28 million including interest.

In 2018, the NSW Court of Appeal confirmed that Scenic had breached its obligations, but overturned the award of damages for disappointment and distress.

However, Moore appealed to the High Court of Australia. In 2020, in a unanimous decision the High Court ruled that passengers were entitled to damages for disappointment and distress.

The proceedings returned to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the determination of the damages to be received by group members.

A two-week hearing took place in March 2021 to determine the claims of 32 ‘sample’ group members as a means of establishing the principles for the determination of all remaining claims. Today’s judgment follows from that hearing.

Somerville Legal, alongside litigation funder Omni Bridgeway Ltd, is currently investigating the commencement of a further class action against Scenic as a result of similarly disrupted cruises that took place in 2018.



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