A new international air treaty affording accident victims potentially unlimited compensation will enter into force on 4 November, replacing a 75-year-old system limiting liability to a few thousand dollars per passenger, following its ratification by the United States, the United Nations civil aviation agency has announced.
The Montreal Convention, which replaces the Warsaw Convention System on compensation in cases of international air accidents, introduces a two-tier system, the first providing strict liability of up to 100,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR), or about $135,000, irrespective of a carrier’s fault, and the second, based on presumption of fault, with no limit.
The Warsaw Convention, dating from 1929, set a limit of 125,000 Gold Francs – or about $8,300 – in case of death or injury to passengers.
“Victims of international air accidents and their families will be better protected and compensated under the new Montreal Convention, which modernizes and consolidates a seventy-five year old system of international instruments of private international law into one legal instrument,” the President of the Council of the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said.
The United States ratified the convention on Friday, becoming the thirtieth ICAO contracting State to do so and thus starting the 60-day clock for its entry into force.
The new convention, drawn up during an International Air Law Conference convened by ICAO in 1999, also calls on carriers to provide advance payments without delay in cases of aircraft accidents, to assist entitled persons in meeting immediate economic needs and facilitates the recovery of damages without the need for lengthy litigation.