By PAUL WAFULA
The Foreign Affairs ministry has asked families of victims of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash to secure a Grant of Representation from court in order to get compensation.
A Grant of Representation is a document that confirms the legal status and ability to deal with the estate of someone who has died. It grants the bearer the powers to administer the estate of the deceased.
“The ministry would like to advise families and relatives of those who perished in flight ET 302 on March 10, while domiciled in Kenya, to obtain [the document] from Kenyan courts as required by the provisions of the Law of Succession Act of Kenya, in order to access compensation from Ethiopian Airlines,” Principal Secretary Michael Kamau said on Wednesday.
“The process is meant to ensure that only bona fide persons, i.e. holders of probate of a will or letters of administration of the estate of the deceased, access the compensation.”
The crash claimed the lives of all 157 people on board, among them 36 Kenyans, with the country suffering the largest number of casualties.
The ministry’s advice comes as lawyers aggressively seek out family members to help put up a legal case against Boeing and the airline.
Families will receive between Sh17 million to Sh25 million per person who died in the crash.
The exact amounts will vary due to factors such as age, profession and position in life.
The amount could also be more depending on the findings of ongoing investigations, if it is established that the airline was indeed at fault and if court action is the result.
Compensation for victims of plane crashes is guided by the Montreal Convention.
One scenario provides for a minimum compensation – that every passenger must be compensated as long as they were injured or died while on the plane.
Currently, this amount is about $170,000 per passenger, which translates to about Sh17 million at current exchange rates.
The compensation falls due after identification of the victim is done. But since the identification of bodies is going to be a nightmare for forensic experts, given that no body was retrieved from the scene of the crash, this is likely to take a while.
The airline said it will also give refunds for incidental payments of about Sh500,000 to cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred by relatives of the victims when they visited the crash site.