Overseas passengers involved in Shine Lawyers’ class action over the coronavirus outbreak on Carnival Cruises’ Ruby Princess, have had a High Court victory today, confirming their right to participate in the lawsuit.
Susan Karpik launched the representative proceedings on behalf of all 2651 passengers who boarded the Ruby Princess on March 8, 2020. Ms. Karpik was successful at the initial trial with the Federal Court, on 25 October 2023, ruling that Carnival failed to comply with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law; breached its duty of care to passengers by failing to cancel the cruise and failing to take adequate measures to protect passengers from COVID-19 and had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, which is prohibited under the Australian Consumer Law.
Today, in a unanimous decision, five judges of the High Court of Australia found that the class action waiver clause contained within the US terms and conditions was void pursuant to the Australian Consumer Law because it is unfair. The High Court also held that the Primary Judge, Justice Stewart, was correct in exercising his discretion not to stay the claims of US passengers, as there are strong reasons for not enforcing the exclusive jurisdiction clause.
“We welcome the High Court’s decision which is a great outcome for overseas group members, who are now able to participate in the class action against Carnival PLC and Princess Cruise Lines Ltd following the successful trial judgment,” said, Vicky Antzoulatos, Shine Lawyers’ Joint Head of Class Actions.
“This is a significant win for the 696 US passengers who boarded this ill-fated cruise and the decision provides important clarity on class action waiver clauses and their enforceability in Australia,” she said.