A retired Supreme Court justice is suggesting that all Bahamas-flagged cruise ships require that passenger disputes (including claims involving personal injury) be arbitrated in the Bahamas, according to the Tribune newspaper

The Bahamian newspaper reports that former justice Rubie Nottage told a group of arbitrators yesterday that arbitrating cruise passenger disputes would generate a "significant volumes of business."

The Tribune states that "with many of the major cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, Arbitration Nassau Bahamasoperating Bahamas-flagged ships, Mrs Nottage called on them to insert a clause into passenger contracts ensuring “that matters that arise on Bahamas-flagged vessels be arbitrated in the Bahamas."

Currently, cruise passengers are entitled to trials in the United States federal courts. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line passengers are required (according to the cruise lines’ tickets) to file suit in Miami. Princess cruise passengers are required to file suit in Los Angeles. Holland America Line passengers must file suit in Seattle. All cruise passengers are entitled to have juries decide their claims against the cruise lines.

However, if arbitration clauses are inserted into cruise line tickets, and such provisions are enforced, cruise passengers would lose their right to a jury trial in the U.S.  Passengers would also be required to travel to Nassau, incur additional expenses,and risk being a victim of crime there. The murder rate in Nassau is many times higher than in the U.S. The Tribune reports today that a former government official said there is something “drastically wrong” with the government in the Bahamas and a "spirit of fear, sparked by escalating crime, shrouds the country."

As far fetched as it may sound, the prospect of cruise passengers bring forced into arbitration and losing their right to a jury trial is possible.  The cruise lines began requiring all crew members, including U.S. crew members, to submit to foreign arbitration in the last decade. Our firm is now now prosecuting crew arbitration cases in Panama and Europe where the applicable law is that of Panama, Norway or the Marshall Islands. The cruise lines resorted to this tactic to take rights away from their crew members.

Last year, the Tribune reported that the Bahamas had “a very good chance of being the arbitration centre of choice” for thousands of crew member cases generated annually. Michael Crye, a U.S. lawyer and former Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) executive vice-president, remarked that the Bahamas’ long-standing ties to the cruise industry placed it in position to “grab a substantial amount of this opportunity.”

It is questionable that a U.S. citizen could obtain a fair hearing before a Bahamian arbitrator deciding a case involving a cruise line which registers its cruise ships in the Bahamas. In addition to the inherent conflict of interest, there is a culture of corruption in Nassau. Consider the two comments to the article in the Bahamian newspaper. One comment mentioned "we are not an impartial jurisdiction, and the corruption will prevent anyone from using Bahamians as arbitrators." The other comment said: "I would only come here and when i already bribed everyone involved, that’s how it works here . . ."

  • Lori

    Could US citizens receive fair treatment, of course not. That is why she suggested it, look at her record from 2008. All we are to the Bahamian islands are targets.

  • Clare

    The Bahamas is a modern day wild wild west, where the criminals are all armed with guns and have more rights in the eyes of their courts than their victims. Tourists are safer going to North Korea or Iran than to the Bahamas. The leaders of the Bahamas are the people’s worst enemies, emptying out their taxed funds into private Cayman bank accounts while letting the killers rule the streets; no one is safe in the Bahamas anymore, no one.

  • Steve

    This would be a severe hit to fair hearings and trials to any PAX or crew! This retired Supreme Court Judge needs to stay retired. Bahamas are known for their crime and dislike to Americans. Cruise ships that are flagged there have all agreed to make stops there. That place sucks and fair trials will never take place. Those cruise lines flagged there would love to see this happen!!!!!

  • Ross

    You got that right Clare, 111 murders today and headed for an all time record. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6nrE35MKdw Also today another travel warning from the U.S. http://www.thenassauguardian.com/news/59458 I use to visit the Bahamas in the 1970’s, now I wouldn’t go there if an all paid vacation was given to me, I think it’s even more dangerous than Jamaica. Great website Mr. Walker, keep up the good work.

  • Sam Winchester-UK

    This is the same lousy corrupt judge that let out murders on $1,000 bails so than can kill again while they wait for their court date. This country is run by pirates, who give full rights to other corrupt pirates. Any tourist or foreigner visiting is without a “TARGET”, just like Lori commented.

  • Eva

    I agree with Clare, the country has fallen out of grace. But you know what they say about history repeating itself and it’s happening now, the Pirates have taken over again, now the question is, who will be the one to expel them and restore commerce again.
    Don’t waste your hard earned money going to a country where you’re not sure, you’re gonna come out alive. Go to Cuba, S America or the middle east. Like you say tourist are safer in N Korea or Iran, at least there, if something happens to you. There will be justice.

  • Eva

    And you know now that when Bahamians read these comments, they will be irate and blast us for speaking badly about THEIR country. But face it, the truth hurts. Instead of complaining bout us, they should do something to clean up their country to avoid so there won’t be comments like this towards them.

  • Yolanda

    All you Foreigners and Americans can go straight to holy hell, my country is da best place in da world to live. Mr. Walker is a fucking lying motherfucker, all dis things he writes is lies! My country doesn’t need ya white honky bastards coming here bad mouthing my land! We have Chinese as our friends now, one day they will nuke all you dumb fucks! Cuba can also go fuck themselves, all a bunch of stupid spic anyway, we beat them to death in our jails when they come here, Cuba can fuck off too!

  • Rick

    Yolanda you are one sick bitch, please stay in your beloved dump so you don’t contaminate the rest of the world with your intelligence. One day your Chinese masters will make you eat your words.

  • ABC123

    I’m Puerto Rican and don’t like the way you talk Yolanda, you are sick in the head girl. I’ve always known the Bahamas to be a racist place, but you are over the top filled with hate and should be locked up. Maybe your hate and anger is a product of your dishonest government, so blame them. And I also want you to know, the Cuban people are one of the nicest, smartest, friendliest people I know. When their country opens up fully, tourist and foreigners will leave your dump, and move to their Paradise. Go read a book if you can, it’s called the Bible, for a Christian Nation, you represent more of the
    Devil than God.

  • Dora Millo

    Great site Mr. Walker, I’ve been a fan of yours for three years now. I noticed this morning the Bahamian government is not printing the murder count anymore. They are so corrupt they don’t want anything to affect money coming in from visitors. You are absolutely correct Jim, money is all they care about, people’s safety is no concern to them. The murder count is 112 as of yesterday, even though I’ve counted 116 since the start of 2015. http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/sep/27/man-shot-dead-nassau-village-police-scene/ Thank you for your time and services James, have a good day.

  • Dora Millo
  • Danny

    The more I read her posts, the more I’m convinced that “Yolanda” is just someone trolling all the commenters.