Karpik v Carnival plc [2023] HCA 39

Passengers who caught COVID on a cruise sued the vessel owner under unfair contract provisions in the Australian Consumer Law13.  One issue was whether the consumer provisions applied to contracts made offshore and to things done outside Australia.

Where the presumption of extraterritoriality arises, the ‘starting point is always the interpretation of local laws’.  It is the text, context and subject matter of the local law which determine the issue14.  The presumption is ‘one of construction only’, and not a fundamental common law right15.  Here, the consumer provisions applied as they departed from the common expectation of territorial confinement.

This principle is from Episode 104 of interpretation NOW!


13 s 23 in Part 2-3 of Sch 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

14 Impiombato [2022] HCA 33 [61], Wanganui (1934) 50 CLR 581 (601).

15 Coco (1994) 179 CLR 427 (437), cf Potter (1908) 7 CLR 277 (304) cited.