Montreal Convention

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For other similarly named agreements, see Montreal Convention (disambiguation).
Montreal Convention
Convention for the Unification of certain rules for international carriage by air
Signed 28 May 1999 (1999-05-28)
Location Montreal, Canada
Effective 4 November 2003
Parties 112 (111 states + EU)[1]
Depositary International Civil Aviation Organization
Languages English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish

The Montreal Convention (formally, the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) is a multilateral treaty adopted by a diplomatic meeting of ICAO member states in 1999. It amended important provisions of the Warsaw Convention's regime concerning compensation for the victims of air disasters. The Convention attempts to re-establish uniformity and predictability of rules relating to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo. Whilst maintaining the core provisions which have served the international air transport community for several decades (i.e., the Warsaw regime), the new treaty achieves modernization in a number of key areas. It protects passengers by introducing a two-tier liability system that eliminates the previous requirement of proving willful neglect by the air carrier to obtain more than $75,000 in damages, which should eliminate or reduce protracted litigation.[2]


Under the Montreal Convention, air carriers are strictly liable for proven damages up to 113,100 special drawing rights (SDR), a mix of currency values established by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[3] Where damages of more than 113,100 SDR are sought, the airline may avoid liability by proving that the accident which caused the injury or death was not due to their negligence or was attributable to the negligence of a third party. This defence is not available where damages of less than 113,100 SDR are sought. The Convention also amended the jurisdictional provisions of Warsaw and now allows the victim or their families to sue foreign carriers where they maintain their principal residence, and requires all air carriers to carry liability insurance.

The Montreal Convention was brought about mainly to amend liabilities to be paid to families for death or injury whilst on board an aircraft.

No compensation purely for psychiatric injury[edit]

The Convention refuses to pay any compensation for psychiatric injury or damage unless inextricably linked to the physical injury.[4] Purely psychiatric injury is not eligible for compensation which has been criticised by people injured in plane accidents,[5] legal experts[6] and their families.[7]


Australia changed its law so as to fit with the Montreal Convention including in some of the following ways

  • the removal of references to ‘personal injury’ and replaced with ‘bodily injury’ under the CACL Act[8] to ensure consistency with the 1999 Montreal Convention concerning international flights;
  • the preclusion of potential claimants from claiming compensation for mental injuries where that person has not suffered additional personal or property damage[8]

Independent Australian senator Nick Xenophon will introduce a private member's bill into the Australian Parliament in May 2015 which will seek to protect the rights of plane crash survivors to be compensated for psychological trauma.[6]

Leading Australian current affairs TV show 4 Corners on the government owned broadcaster ABC,[9] broadcast a program[10] focusing on the unfairness and injustice of excluding psychiatric injury on March 23, 2015 featuring Karen Casey, a nurse injured when the medical evacuation flight she was nursing on crashed in the waters off Norfolk Island.

Lost baggage[edit]

The Montreal Convention changes and generally increases the maximum liability of airlines for lost baggage to a fixed amount 1,131 SDR per passenger (the amount in the Warsaw Convention is based on weight of the baggage). It requires airlines to fully compensate travellers the cost of replacement items purchased until the baggage is delivered, to a maximum of 1,131 SDR. At 21 days any delayed baggage is considered lost, even if the airline delivers it after that period.

Disabled passengers and mobility equipment[edit]

The limitation of compensation for damage to baggage to 1,131 SDRs means that the value of damaged mobility equipment may often significantly exceed available compensation under the Montreal Convention, while the effect of the loss, even temporarily, of mobility equipment places disabled passengers at a substantially increased disadvantage in comparison to other passengers suffering damaged baggage.

The EU in "Communication on the scope of the liability of air carriers and airports in the event of destroyed, damaged or lost mobility equipment of passengers with reduced mobility when travelling by air"[11] notes this disadvantage in relation to EC 1107/2006 "rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air".[12]

The EU report notes that the United States under the Air Carrier Access Act and Canada under Part VII of the Air Transport Regulations have taken action to force airlines to fully cover the costs of damage to mobility equipment as a condition of allowing an airline to operate in their airspace, and notes that the EU may have to take similar steps if the additional duties imposed on airlines by EC 1107/2006 do not resolve the issue.


As of May 2015, there are 112 parties to the Convention. Included in this total is 111 of the 191 ICAO Member States plus the European Union. The states that have ratified represent 110 UN member states plus the Cook Islands. Other states that have ratified include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, all member states of the European Union, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]