Key Features

The 1999 Montreal Convention unified the rules on international carriage by air and modernized the provisions on limitation of liability for international air carriers. The convention has been ratified by those countries that cumulatively account for the largest share in international air transport. Although a party to the earlier Warsaw regime (the Warsaw Convention 1929 and the Hague Protocol 1955), India has only recently acceded to the Montreal Convention. In order to incorporate the convention's provisions into Indian law, the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Act 2008 amending the Carriage by Air Act 1972 was enacted by Parliament in February 2009 and notified in March 2009.

Key Features

The amendment act should help to avoid complex jurisdictional discrepancies when deciding matters relating to passenger or goods liability. Some of its key features are outlined below.

Two-tier liability system
The amendment act provides for strict liability up to a fixed amount and unlimited presumptive liability for air carriers. By providing for death and personal injury, the act is in harmony with the liability system prevalent in several quasi-legal instruments which eliminated the ceiling on liability for personal injury (eg, the 1992 Japanese initiative and International Air Transport Association inter-carrier agreements (1995 to 1996)).

Increased liability
The strict liability for death and personal injury is now 100,000 special drawing rights (SDR). The limit of compensation for passenger delay is 4,150 SDR per passenger. For delay, loss or destruction of baggage, the carrier's liability is limited to 1,000 SDR per passenger, and for cargo it is limited to 17 SDR per kilogram. These limits are subject to review every five years by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Enhanced flexibility
Under the Carriage by Air Act, a claimant could bring an action for damages in a state that was a party to the applicable Warsaw Convention:

  • based on the carrier's place of domicile;
  • based on the carrier's principal place of business;
  • based on the place of business through which the contract had been made; or
  • before the court at the place of the carrier's destination.

The amendment provides for an additional fifth jurisdiction for claims of personal injury or death. A claimant can now claim for damages in a state which has ratified or acceded to the convention and where it has its principal and permanent residence - provided that the carrier operates services to and from such place - notwithstanding the claimant's citizenship.


The incorporation of the convention into Indian law means that India is now operating at the same level as the prevailing international regime. This will augment India's position as a key player in international civil aviation.

For further information on this topic please contact Ananjan Mitter at ALMT Legal - Advocates & Solicitors by telephone (+91 22 4001 0000) or by fax (+91 22 4001 0001) or by email ([email protected]).