EU Air Carrier Liability Regulation Updated

Author:Mr Simon Phippard
Profession:Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

Council Regulation 2027/97 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents has always posed challenges to lawyers used to the English style of legislation. The amendment does not alter that situation and may give rise to more scope for argument. In the first of two articles we comment on the changed structure.

With effect from 30 May 2002, Council Regulation (EC) 2027/97 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents has been amended, by Regulation (EC) No. 889/2002 of the Parliament and of the Council. Although the amending regulation is in force, it does not yet "apply". That must await the entry into force of the Montreal Convention 1999 "for the Community", and we comment on those provisions in the second article to be published in the next issue of BLG Aviation News. First we set out the main elements of the revised Regulation and the principal changes.

The revised Regulation is expressed as an amendment. In fact, though, every provision is spelt out in full. Although there are some areas of common text it is not immediately apparent why the draftsman did not simply start afresh. Certainly it would make the presentation simpler. For instance the amendment process results in a regulation which will feature Articles 1, 2, 3, 3a, 5 and so on, but not 4.

Briefly the principal changes are as follows:

Instead of referring to air carrier liability "in the event of accidents" the title is now "Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air". This reflects the main purpose of the amendment, which is to apply the passenger and baggage elements of the Montreal Convention 1999. Baggage was not covered in the earlier regulation; cargo still remains excluded.

The fundamental operative clause is changed. Originally the Regulation assumed that the Warsaw regime governed and removed the limit of liability in passenger cases. Now it seeks to impose Montreal directly, for passengers and baggage, subject to amendments.

The insurance obligation is expressed differently. Previously it appears to have required insurance up to SDR100,000 per passenger and thereafter up to "a reasonable level". The amended Regulation will simply require a Community air carrier to have a level of insurance adequate to pay full compensation in accordance with the principles of the Regulation. Neither formulation reflects the reality of the structure of passenger legal liability insurance policies as...

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