Journal of Air Law and Commerce

ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)



This paper analyzes the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Article 17(1) of the 1999 Montreal Convention (MC99) regarding the liability of international air carriers for death or bodily injury to passengers. The interpretational principles and methods applied by the CJEU are examined, accounting also for the particularities of the EU legal order. Furthermore, the results reached by the CJEU are compared with the case law of other jurisdictions, mainly the US, and doctrinal writings. Nonetheless, this paper does not explore the pertinent issues from a de lege ferenda perspective.

The paper concludes that the judgments of the CJEU on Art. 17(1) MC99 have interpreted the notions of “passenger,” “accident,” and “bodily injury” broadly, in a passenger-friendly way. Although the interpretation of ‘passenger’ does not differ from the established case law in other jurisdictions, some aspects of the interpretation of “accident” and the interpretation of “bodily injury” significantly depart from the view currently prevailing among courts internationally. The CJEU has yet to rule on the scope of the exclusivity of the MC99, under Art. 29 thereof, regarding personal injury of passengers. However, the expansive interpretations of “accident” and “bodily injury” by the CJEU limit the practical effect of Article 29 compared to other jurisdictions. Given the regulatory influence that the EU exercises world- wide, the CJEU judgments might guide courts also outside the EU. Although this would bolster passenger protection, it would exacerbate the already fragmented application of the MC99 internationally.



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