Case details

Warner (Respondent) v Scapa Flow Charters (Appellant) (Scotland)

Case ID: UKSC 2017/0103

Case summary


Whether, on a correct reading of Article 16 of the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974 ("the Athens Convention"), sub-section 18(3) of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 operates as a "suspension or interruption" so as to protect the claim made on behalf of the respondent’s son from being time-barred.


On 14 August 2012, the respondent’s husband died when taking part in a diving trip on a vessel owned and operated by the appellant. For the purposes of this appeal, it is assumed that his death was caused by the appellant’s failure to take reasonable care. On 17 April 2013, the respondent’s agents sent a letter of claim to the appellant intimating claims for damages on behalf of the respondent and on behalf of her and the deceased’s infant son. The summons was signetted on 14 May 2015 and served on 16 May 2015. The appellant contended that the action was time barred under Article 16 of the Athens Convention, which prescribes a two-year time bar. The respondent denied that either her case or the one brought on behalf of her son was time-barred, as s.18 of the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 provided grounds for suspension and interruption of limitation periods, as described in Article 16.3 of the Athens Convention. The Outer House dismissed the respondent’s actions. On a reclaiming motion to the Court of Session, the Inner House allowed the reclaiming motion in part, as it related to the action on behalf of the respondent’s son. The Inner House granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Judgment appealed

[2017] CSIH 13



Scapa Flow Charters


Debbie Warner (as guardian of her son, Vincent Warner)



Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Sumption, Lord Hodge, Lord Briggs

Hearing start date

28 Jun 2018

Hearing finish date

28 Jun 2018

Watch hearing
28 Jun 2018 Morning session