Federal Aviation Accident Reports
Historical Considerations of International Treaties
A passenger engaged in international
as opposed to purely domestic travel may be subject to severe limitations
on the amount of damages s/he may recover that his/her domestic counterpart
is not. The most important of these limitations arise from the Warsaw
Convention and the Montreal Agreement .
The Warsaw Convention, officially entitled
"Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International
Transportation by Air", was actually the result of two international
conferences. The first was held in Paris in 1925, the second in Warsaw
in 1929. Although the United States was not a party thereto, it did proclaim
adherence to the Warsaw Convention in 1934 pursuant to Congressional authority.
The Convention was drafted when international
air travel was still in its infancy. Its purpose was two-fold. First,
it established uniformity among the many countries relative to tickets,
documentation and the like. Second, and more importantly, it was created
to limit liability to prevent the air transportation companies from early
financial ruin in the event of a single disaster.
The Warsaw Convention was officially amended
by the Hague Protocol, a treaty proposed in 1955 at the Hague and signed
by twenty-six countries. This Treaty was never ratified by the United
The United States deposited, on November
15, 1965, its formal Notice of Denunciation of the Convention to the Polish
Government, to become effective May 15, 1966. The stated reason for the
denunciation was the low limits the Convention set on liability for injury
and death. The day before the denunciation was to take effect, it was
withdrawn, and an Interim Agreement, CAB 18900, was submitted. Agreement
CAB 18900 provided that the parties thereto agreed to include in their
tariffs to be filed with the CAB a special contract by which the air carrier
would waive certain defenses provided by the Warsaw Convention, and further,
would waive the Convention's limitation of liability up to $75,000. The
Agreement, tariff, Notice to Passengers informing them of the changes
and the CAB Order compose that which has become known as the "Montreal
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as the result of an airplane crash,
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