ARTICLE: Flights of Fancy and Fights of Fury: Arbitration and Adjudication of Commercial and Political Disputes in International Aviation Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2004 The Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Inc.
Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law

ARTICLE: Flights of Fancy and Fights of Fury: Arbitration and Adjudication of Commercial and Political Disputes in International Aviation

Spring, 2004

32 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 231


Paul Stephen Dempsey *


I. Introduction

By its very nature, aviation is inherently international in character, shrinking the planet and drawing together disparate peoples, cultures, and economies. As aircraft cross borders into foreign airspace and land at foreign airports, conflicts inevitably arise at both commercial and political levels. It is the resolution of these disputes that is the focus of this Article.

International dispute settlement mechanisms exist along a spectrum. Coercive means exist at one end, while legal means exist at the other. 1 This Article focuses on the latter, and in particular, the ad hoc arbitrations that have resolved commercial aviation disputes, as well as the adjudication of aviation disputes before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), 2 and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 3

Bilateral air transport agreements (bilaterals) define legal rights between nations in the realm of commercial aviation. Rights and responsibilities defined therein concerning airline traffic rights, rates, capacity, safety, security, and competition often lead to conflict between signatory states. Most bilaterals require consultation by governments over disputes before any retaliatory action is taken. Early bilaterals called for an advisory report or adjudication by the ICAO. The Chicago Convention also provides for dispute resolution before the ICAO Council. Modern bilaterals have replaced the ICAO as a dispute resolution forum with ad hoc arbitration, usually with three arbitrators. 4 Bilaterals typically call for termination only on twelve months' prior notice.

In the history of international aviation, relatively few disputes have ...
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