'Substantive Progress' in Estonia Ferry Families' Suit Against Certification Firm, Shipbuilder ({{commentsTotal}})

A court case in which the family members of victims of the MS Estonia ferry disaster are suing the certification firm and shipbuilder for damages is moving forward in the French court system after 19 years of arguments over procedural technicalities.

Last Friday, coincidentally on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the sinking on September 28, 1994, positive news came from the law firm that represents the families, Schmill & Lombrez SCP, ETV reported. The law firm said more substantive developments had occurred in the last six months than in the previous 18 years put together.

Bureau Veritas, the certification authority, had challenged the very notion that relatives had legal standing to sue. Last year, for instance, relatives' groups had to scramble to meet an October 14, 2013, deadline for showing their relationship to the deceased, which they did.

Now, reported ETV, a French lower court said answers must be provided by the respondents, the Paris-headquartered Bureau Veritas and the German ship builder Meyer Werft, by October 10 as to why the ship was cleared as to seaworthiness and how the ship was built.

Helje Bollyn (pictured), the widow of vocalist Urmas Alender, has led the court action against Bureau Veritas and Meyer Werft, as head of the ad hoc Estonia Litigation Association.