Bodily Injury And The Montreal Convention

Author:Ms Siobhan Lane
Profession:Dillon Eustace

IntroductionWhat constitutes bodily injury for the purposes of recoveringcompensation under the Montreal Convention is an area of law thathas challenged judges and lawyers down through the years and is atopic on which there is a substantial amount of information. Thisarticle sets out some of the salient points which govern this areaof law with particular emphasis on the law in Ireland.An Exclusive Cause of ActionA starting point for this article is to understand the principlethat the Montreal Convention ("the Convention") providesan exclusive cause of action. This principle was very clearlyestablished by the House of Lords in the landmark English case ofSidhu and others .v. British Airways plc, 1997. Lord Hopein that case held that "The Convention does not purport todeal with all matters relating to contracts of internationalcarriage by air. But in those areas with which it deals - and theliability of the carrier is one of them - the code is intended tobe uniform and to be exclusive also of any resort to the rules ofthe domestic law.." Essentially, what this means is that where no remedy isprovided for a claimant under the Convention, no remedy exists.This case of Sidhu was cited in the Irish Supreme Courtdecision of AHP Manufacturing B.V. t/a Wyeth Medica .v. DHLWorldwide Network N.V, DHL Worldwide Express GmbH and DHLInternational (Ireland) Limited, 30th July 2001. Thisprincipal was also mentioned obiter dictum in the judgment ofBlayney J in the Irish Supreme Court case of S. Smyth andCompany Limited .v. Aer Turas Teoranta, 3rd February 1997.The Convention was given force of law in Ireland by virtue ofthe Air Navigation and Transport (International Conventions) Act2004.Article 17 of the ConventionArticle 17 of the Convention provides that "The carrieris liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodilyinjury (emphasis added) of a passenger upon condition onlythat the accident which caused the death or injury took place onboard the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations ofembarking or disembarking."Provided the other criteria necessary to establish that therehas been an "accident" within the Convention, itis clear that only physical injury sustained is recoverable underthe Convention. Where the issue becomes more complex is indetermining whether or not a passenger who has suffered arecognisable mental condition is entitled to be compensated.Psychological InjuryIt has been established that purely psychological injury is notin itself...

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