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Copyright (c) 2001 Washington College of Law, American University
American University International Law Review

ARTICLE: Accident, Exclusivity, and Passenger Disturbances Under the Warsaw Convention


16 Am. U. Int'l L. Rev. 891




Since 1929, an international air carrier's liability for personal and cargo injury and damage has been governed by the Warsaw Convention ("Convention"), officially referred to as the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air. 1 The Convention is a comprehensive international treaty governing the liability of carriers in "all international transportation of persons, baggage and goods." 2 The Convention emerged due to differences among the world's countries as to liability rules governing air transportation accidents. 3 The parties to the Convention desired to limit a carrier's liability in the event of any catastrophic aircraft disasters which might otherwise threaten the financial security of the infant industry. 4 Other objectives were to achieve uniformity in an air carrier's liability and documentation for transportation, to avoid involved conflicts of law problems, protect the fledgling international transportation business, and to facilitate transactions between countries around the world. 5

Since the Convention's inception, various issues have emerged regarding the scope and interpretation of the Convention, especially in light of the modernization and expansion of air travel. As a result, the Convention has recently undergone significant changes and reform efforts aimed at modernizing the liability scheme. The traditionally low liability limits have been raised, converted into an international market standard, and tied to inflation. The concept of willful misconduct to break the monetary limits has been eliminated with an essentially no-fault based system in place for damage claims under the new and ...
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