What is the difference between a flight from New York to Los Angeles and one from New York to Vancouver? Besides the likely difference in the weather upon arrival, the two flights are governed by different bodies of law. New York–Vancouver is an international flight, governed by an international treaty signed by 97 countries in Montreal, Canada, on May 28, 1999. Popularly referred to as the Montreal Convention, the treaty addresses the liability of air carriers for damages arising out of international carriage by air. This Convention does not apply to carriage between two points in the same country unless there is a scheduled stopping place at a point in another country.
Since the Montreal Convention became effective in the United States about a decade ago, courts have interpreted and applied the Convention under numerous factual circumstances. An examination of this case law reveals that there are areas of the treaty that have been particularly contentious. This article begins with an overview of the Convention’s structure and key provisions. It then examines three controversial issues under the Convention and considers what guidance is available from precedent, including recent cases, to predict the outcome of a particular case. Although courts across the country have not rendered a consistent interpretation of all issues that arise under the Convention, the case law sheds light on the critical factors courts are likely to invoke to resolve these issues...The Air & Space Lawyer, Volume 24