Limits of liability for passengers and goods

What are limitations to liability?

All air carriers’ tariffs must set out how an air carrier limits its liability with respect to the transportation of passenger and goods.

This part of an air carrier’s tariff addresses the extent of an air carrier’s liability in cases of personal injury or death arising out of accidents during air transportation and also establishes the maximum levels of damages to be paid for instances of lost, damaged or delayed baggage.

For international travel, limits of liability are subject to the Convention for the Unification of certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (otherwise known as the Montreal Convention),or the Warsaw Convention in countries that have not ratified the Montreal Convention. Both the Warsaw and the Montreal Conventions are incorporated into Canadian law by virtue of the Carriage by Air Act.

The limits of liability set in the Montreal Convention are reviewed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at five-year intervals to determine whether the levels of liability need to be revised for inflation (the last such revision occurred in November 2009).

International tariffs must include the terms of any applicable international convention.

Although domestic tariffs are not subject to international conventions, the Agency has issued decisions about applying the provisions of the Montreal Convention to domestic travel to create consistency for travellers. For example:

For wording about the Montreal Convention that can be incorporated into tariffs, see the sample tariff for scheduled flights.

What are the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions?

The Montreal Convention is an international treaty that establishes uniform rules about the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo by air. For instance, the Montreal Convention allows:

  • unlimited liability for damages in the case of accidental death or injury to passengers
  • limited liability of approximately $2,000 per passenger for lost, delayed or damaged baggage

The Montreal Convention came into force in 2003 and consolidated and modernized the rules of the Warsaw Convention of 1929. If a country has not ratified the Montreal Convention, the Warsaw Convention may still apply. If a country has not ratified either the Montreal or Warsaw Conventions, then no international treaty would apply and the carrier would establish its own limits of liability.

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