Montreal Convention Liability Limits Increased for Injury, Delay and Baggage Claims

The Montreal Convention, an international treaty incorporated into Canadian law, exclusively governs passenger claims arising out of international air travel that fall within its scope. Consequently, if a claim is not specifically provided for in the Convention, it is not available at all in Canada, regardless of local law.  This statement of the law is consistent with the interpretation of courts in most other signatory countries.

Article 24 of the Montreal Convention states that a review of its liability limits (for personal injury, delay, baggage, and cargo claims) must be conducted every five years, to ensure that the limits keep pace with inflation.  The first review of the liability limits was conducted in 2009 (by the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”)), and led to an increase adjustment of the limits.  In 2014, ICAO conducted its second review and recommended no adjustment.  On June 28, 2019, ICAO completed its latest review and recommended that the limits be increased.

The liability limits in the Montreal Convention are expressed in a form of international currency called a Special Drawing Right (an “SDR”), which must be converted into the local currency of the country in which the claim is being adjudicated. As of December 28, 2019, the new limits are as follows:

ClaimOld Limits (in effect from December 30, 2009 to December 27, 2019)*New Limits (in effect on December  28, 2019)*
Death or Bodily Injury113,100 SDRs (approximately $204,141 CAD)128,821 SDRs (approximately $232,517 CAD)
Passenger Delay4,694 SDRs (approximately $8,472 CAD)5,346 SDRs (approximately $9,649 CAD)
Baggage Delay, Loss, Damage1,131 SDRs per passenger (approximately $2,041 CAD)1,288 SDRs per passenger (approximately $2,324 CAD)
Cargo Delay, Loss, Damage19 SDRs per kilogram (approximately $34 CAD per kilogram)22 SDRs per kilogram (approximately $39 CAD per kilogram)

All Canadian air carriers who conduct international flights should be mindful of the required new limits and should incorporate them into contracts of carriage and tariffs, as applicable.

*Canadian dollar amounts in the table were calculated using exchange rates in effect on January 1, 2020.

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