Montreal Convention Liability Limits Increase

Published 13 January 2020 by Condon & Forsyth LLP

The Montreal Convention of 1999, which governs the liability between air carriers and passengers and shippers, includes specific limitations of liability for recovery in cases involving injuries or death of passengers, delay of passengers or cargo, and damage or loss of cargo or baggage.

The Convention includes a provision requiring that the limits of liability be subject to a routine review every five years by ICAO. Those limits are subject to an upward revision depending on the rate of inflation during that time. (The limits may also be reviewed more frequently if there has been more than thirty percent inflation between routine reviews.)  If ICAO decides that the limits should be increased, that proposal is made to the countries that are parties to the Convention and the countries then have an opportunity to file objections.  Since the Convention’s entry into force, the limits have only been increased once. In 2009, the limits were increased by 13.1%. No adjustments were made in either 2004 or 2014.

In 2019, ICAO proposed an upward revision of 13.9% from the current limits.  A majority of member countries did not file opposition to the revision and, therefore, the increase took effect on 28 December 2019 and the new limits are set forth below.  All units are expressed in SDRs (Special Drawing Rights).

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Air carriers should review their Conditions of Carriage for passengers and cargo to ensure that they reflect the new limits of liability.

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