Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal/Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad

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The Exclusion of Liability for Emotional Harm to Passengers in the Warsaw and Montréal Convention: Moving away from Floyd, Siddhu and Pienaar to the Stott case?

Rafia de Gama


This contribution focuses on the transport of passengers on international routes and the legal regime set down by the Warsaw Convention of 1929 and reinforced by the Montréal Convention of 1999. These Conventions regulate commercial aviation by detailing a set of minimum standardised procedures for flight safety, such as standards for air navigation systems, amongst others, to ensure safe and efficient air travel.
The legal regime also regulates the possible claims that may be made against airlines for the death of or harm to passengers, as well as relating to damage to and loss of baggage. The regime not only limits claims temporally and by location, but it also excludes the application of national legal regimes. With regard to claims of harm to dignity the regime disallows such claims to be brought within the restrictions placed by the legal regimes or on any other basis.
The contribution does not address the full coverage of these Conventions, only the exclusion of mental / emotional injuries. The Convention excludes emotional harm from the definition of death and physical harm. However claimants have brought claims to undermine the main exclusion of claims with regard to compensation for emotional harm. This contribution explores the exclusion of claims in the Warsaw and Montréal Conventions and thereafter analyses two court decisions in common law countries where this exclusion of claims was challenged and the challenge failed.

Keywords: Dignity; strict liability; limitation of liability

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