Germany: Supreme court decides on malperformance of Greenland cruise

A 14 days cruise “Summer in Greenland” was performed differently from what it had been sold: the route was different, several shore leaves were cancelled, the duration of other shore leaves was significantly reduced. Because of petrol of poor quality, the engine power was reduced and the visits to the Faeroe Islands and the Orkney Islands had to be cancelled. The respective days were spent on open sea instead. Some passengers therefore decided to terminate the trip in Reykjavik and returned back home on their own.The organizer refunded 40 % of the full price to the passengers concerned. On behalf of its clients, a travel company sued for another 40 % reduction and compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment in addition. With regard to those passengers who had terminated the trip, the company sued for reimbursement of the additonal costs involved.The first instance court (LG Bremen) dismissed the claim, the appelate court (OLG Bremen) upheld the judgement. Both courts were of the opinion that the shortcomings in the perfomance of the cruise contract had not completely debased the trip and thus the refund of 40 % had been proportionate.Upon further appeal of the plaintiff, the Supreme court (BGH) set aside the judgment and ordered the appelate court to reconsider the case: the BGH held that the circumstances of the whole trip had not been taken into regard sufficiently. In particular, the second part of the trip when the shore leave in Reykjavik was significantly reduced and the visits to the Faeroe Islands and the Orkney Islands were cancelled had to be given more consideration. Thus the proportionate quota of price reduction had to be recalculated. This also applied to the significance of the shortcomings and a potential compensation for loss of holiday enjoyment resulting from these shortcomings as well as the right of passengers to prematurely terminate the trip.Case: BGH May 14, 2013, X ZR 15/11Source: BGH press release 088/2013 of May 14, 2013

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