Blocked By Ice
Our goal : 100% reimbursement of the price paid IN ADDITION TO compensation for thwarted dreams
Legal Opinion !
We have at last received the Legal Opinion from Counsel (i.e. our barrister).
Having carefully considered all the documentation and the evidence, he has concluded that :
“I consider them to have good prospects of success in a claim brought under Regulation 12, 13 and 14 of the 1992 Regulations. Currently I would estimate their prospects of success to be around 70%”
As a consequence, we have instructed our solicitors to issue a formal Letter of Claim Prior to Action, as required under the Civil Procedure Rules. We expect this to be served during the next week, but it needs to be drafted by Counsel which might mean it takes a little longer.
Every members’ circumstances are different and will have to be considered in the light of Counsel’s Opinion. We will write to each member and inform them in more detail about Counsel’s Opinion, so that everyone knows what needs to be done and what further documentary evidence we will need from you to pursue the claim.
The Court process will take some time to be finalised. Therefore, you should not yet withdraw your Section 75 or Charge-Back Claim if you have made one already, because such claims can run in parallel to legal action. As those claims are investigated under the Financial Services Act and the Consumer Credit Act, they are subject to a completely separate process, which generally leads to a quicker resolution than the Court system – but of course you will not be able to recover twice !
If you have not yet made a Section 75 Claim or a Charge-Back Claim on your Debit Card, you should do so immediately. Whilst there is no time limit in respect of Section 75, you only have until 22nd December to make a Charge-Back Claim against your Debit Card. So do NOT delay.
One further point in this context is that Charge-Back is not like Section 75 in one good respect : it does apply to Debit Card transaction with Travel Agents, which is not the case with Section 75.
This will have no impact on the Legal Claim which will proceed in parallel, but it might lead to a quicker resolution.
If you need any further clarification, just let us know.
Good luck to all our members, and may we wish you all a Happy Christmas.
The Blocked By Ice Team
One of our membrs on the Westbound Fram has sent us a report of his experience of the cruise from Greenland to the Pond Inlet which was equally as depressing as the Eastbound cruise. However, they were told on 3rd September that the North West Passage navigation would have to be abandoned due to the ice conditions.
These official Ice Charts from the Canadian Coastguard were presented to the passengers on 3rd September by Karin Strand, from which of course it is abundantly clear that there was no remote possibility of following the itinerary, either Westbound or Eastbound. Further research of the Canadian Coast Guard Archive, demonstrates that, long before 3rd September, navigation was impossible. The Westbound passengers should also have been informed before they left home, so that they could exercise their right to cancel the cruise in accordance with Clause 8.5 of the Hurtigruten contract (7 of the ROL contract.)
Another passenger has drawn attention to the following extract from the itinerary :
“At these latitudes, the sea is frozen for most of the year, only opening up in July for a short late-summer season” – how long is short ? – from July to the end of September ? Three months ?
“Marvel at the changes in hue of the ice when the iceberg surface is struck by the Midnight Sun” – We were told to expect Midnight Sun in September to melt the ice ? Really ?
While Fram updates her logo….
what are Hurtigruten’s competitors up to ?
Quark’s Kapitan Khlebnikov is a polar-class ICE-Breaker. No passenger ship has transited the Northwest Passage more often than this renowned cruise ship. Originally designed to take on the rigors of northern Siberia, the 24,000 horsepower engine and advanced ice-breaking technology is really able to navigate the North West Passage and has done so more often than any other passenger ship. What is more, she has her own helicopter on-board with helipad for sight-seeing. No need to pay the exorbitant prices we were used to.
French cruiseline PONANT’s Le Boréal and Le Soréal hold the record between them of more successful navigations of the North West passage than any other Ice Class 1 cruise ship. But even this year, they did not succeed and had to turn back in Regency Inlet.
So PONANT have commissioned a new Ice Breaker cruise ship, Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s first electric hybrid polar exploration ship powered by liquefied natural gas. Beginning in 2021, this newest member of the PONANT fleet will offer the chance to really follow in the wake of the great polar explorers unlike someone we know !
Our barrister has now been fully briefed and is currently examining in detail all the evidence and documents from members with which we have provided him. This is an arduous task but we have been informed that he will hopefully provide his formal ‘Counsel’s Opinion’ by the end of next week.
The good news is that our solicitors initial assessment of the case was encouraging, and our insurers agreed to fund it. This is an important step forward, as the insurance company would not involve themselves in this sort of expense unless they felt that there was a real prospect of success.
Counsel’s Opinion requires detailed examination of all the facts, careful evaluation of any legislation and the application of accepted legal principles such as breach of contract, misrepresentation, negligence, and consumer law and protections, giving due consideration to legal cases of a similar nature. The available evidence, of which thankfully there is an abundance, will play an important role. Many passengers have already sent us reports of their own experience, both on the Westbound and the Eastbound cruises, and there has been a lot of useful research undertaken by members on the ice conditions and reports.
We already have an excellent “library” of correspondence between members and Hurtigruten, principally concerning formal complaints, and it is important to continue to copy us into any further communications. You are encouraged to send us any more diaries and accounts of personal experiences, which are always welcome of course; it is not too late to consider them. Just email them as usual to :
One of the problems we face is that the law is not necessarily international, and the position in the UK may not be the same in North America, Australia or Europe. But there is still some commonality: in English speaking countries, the legal foundation would have been British Common Law originally, while in the European Union, there is an EU Directive which has been universally incorporated into the law of all Member States, known as Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours.
Every EU country is subject to the same law as a minimum basis. In the UK, for instance, it translates into the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. In essence, the major provisions are :
The particulars contained in the brochure are binding on the organizer or retailer. [One of the items specified in the schedule attached is the Itinerary ! ]
5. If the organizer finds that before the departure he is constrained to alter significantly any of the essential terms ….. he shall notify the consumer as quickly as possible in order to enable him to take appropriate decisions and in particular:
— to withdraw from the contract without penalty
6. If the consumer withdraws from the contract pursuant to paragraph 5, or if, for whatever cause, other than the fault of the consumer, the organizer cancels the package before the agreed date of departure, the consumer shall be entitled:
(b) to be repaid as soon as possible all sums paid by him under the contract.
In such a case, he shall be entitled, if appropriate, to be compensated by either the organizer or the retailer, whichever the relevant Member State's law requires, for non-performance of the contract
7. Where, after departure, a significant proportion of the services contracted for is not provided …. the organizer shall compensate the consumer for the difference between the services offered and those supplied.
If ….such arrangements are not accepted by the consumer for good reasons, the organizer shall, where appropriate, provide the consumer, at no extra cost, with equivalent transport back to the place of departure, …. and shall, where appropriate, compensate the consumer.
That is just a summary of the main provisions and there is a lot more which serves our cause well.
Many of us already have legal costs insurance but we know that many do not. We have made a proposal therefore to our legal team that they should consider extending to any legal action to all members of Blocked By Ice on a “No Win, No Fee” basis. This would of course be of great benefit. In any case, the outcome of any legal action would provide a precedent for further claims, and additional legal action may not be required. Whatever happens, we will share the legal advice with everyone.
To access previous updates, click here :