Bodily Injury And The Montreal Convention

Author:Ms Siobhan Lane
Profession:Dillon Eustace


What constitutes bodily injury for the purposes of recovering

compensation under the Montreal Convention is an area of law that

has challenged judges and lawyers down through the years and is a

topic on which there is a substantial amount of information. This

article sets out some of the salient points which govern this area

of law with particular emphasis on the law in Ireland.

An Exclusive Cause of Action

A starting point for this article is to understand the principle

that the Montreal Convention ("the Convention") provides

an exclusive cause of action. This principle was very clearly

established by the House of Lords in the landmark English case of

Sidhu and others .v. British Airways plc, 1997. Lord Hope

in that case held that "The Convention does not purport to

deal with all matters relating to contracts of international

carriage by air. But in those areas with which it deals - and the

liability of the carrier is one of them - the code is intended to

be uniform and to be exclusive also of any resort to the rules of

the domestic law..

" Essentially, what this means is that where no remedy is

provided for a claimant under the Convention, no remedy exists.

This case of Sidhu was cited in the Irish Supreme Court

decision of AHP Manufacturing B.V. t/a Wyeth Medica .v. DHL

Worldwide Network N.V, DHL Worldwide Express GmbH and DHL

International (Ireland) Limited, 30th July 2001. This

principal was also mentioned obiter dictum in the judgment of

Blayney J in the Irish Supreme Court case of S. Smyth and

Company Limited .v. Aer Turas Teoranta, 3rd February 1997.

The Convention was given force of law in Ireland by virtue of

the Air Navigation and Transport (International Conventions) Act


Article 17 of the Convention

Article 17 of the Convention provides that "The carrier

is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily

injury (emphasis added) of a passenger upon condition only

that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on

board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of

embarking or disembarking."

Provided the other criteria necessary to establish that there

has been an "accident" within the Convention, it

is clear that only physical injury sustained is recoverable under

the Convention. Where the issue becomes more complex is in

determining whether or not a passenger who has suffered a

recognisable mental condition is entitled to be compensated.

Psychological Injury

It has been...

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