In the last issue of BLG Aviation News we commented on some of the main changes to Regulation 2027/97 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents. Here we address the revised notification requirements and issues surrounding the point at which the revised Regulation will be applicable.
A new, lengthy list of notice requirements is now included. All carriers selling air carriage within the Community (i.e European and non-European carriers) must summarise the main liability provisions at all points of sale. How this is to be achieved for telephone sales (which are specifically referred to) is not spelt out.
A detailed written form is prescribed which Community air carriers must use as the notice. While there are a number of misleading or confusing statements in the standard form both the notice and the amended Regulation seem to make it clear that the Montreal Convention and the Regulation override the terms of the notice. Nevertheless it is inevitable that passengers will be misled and disputes will arise.
The notification requirements appear to apply only at points of sale and no longer at check-in. The carrier must identify any limits of liability upon damages for death or injury, loss of or damage to baggage, or delay. For Community air carriers, those limits are those prescribed by the Convention as amended by the Regulation unless voluntarily increased by the carrier. The notification requirements only apply to non-Community carriers in respect of carriage to, from or within the Community.
In addition to notifying liability limits, carriers must now draw attention to time limits both for suing the carrier and for notifying a claim under Montreal Art 31.2. Carriers must also draw passengers' attention to the ability to declare the value of their baggage. It remains to be seen whether the effect will be longer check-in queues.
The amended Regulation will not bring the Montreal Convention into force for the Community but will apply a modified version of that treaty to carriage performed by Community air carriers, such that a number of the issues associated with the original regulation may arise again. Even in the application of the Montreal regime there remain unsatisfactory aspects. It clearly applies to domestic carriage. It clearly applies to carriage governed by Montreal on the latter's own terms. But what of international carriage not properly subject to Montreal - for instance where...