Warsaw Convention – Definition

Cite this article as:"Warsaw Convention – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated May 14, 2019, last accessed November 26, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/warsaw-convention-definition/.


Warsaw Convention Definition

Warsaw Convention is an international convention or agreement that regulates the conveyance of goods or passengers or luggage in international transport, especially in the aviation industry. The Warsaw convention stipulates certain requirements regarding the carriage of passengers alongside their luggage or goods (cargo).

This convention also define the liability of the carrier when there is loss or damage of goods and luggage and well  as injury or death of passenger as a result of accidents on international flights. The limitations of this kind of liability are also contained in the agreement. As a legal framework, Warsaw Convention outlines the procedures for claims of damages. Warsaw convention was signed in 1929 by 31 states, presently, 105 signatory nations adhere to this convention.

A Little More on What is the Warsaw Convention

The Warsaw system is arrived at as a result of the modifications and additional protocols, rules and regulations in the Warsaw convention. Warsaw convention is a legal framework that serve as an effective instrument used by the International civil aviation. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) oversees the operations of this system.

The convention contains definitions of terms, documents or carriage, luggage and passenger ticket, liability of carrier, provisions of combined carriage and other general provisions which sum up to five chapters.

Aside from broad topics in international flight treated by the Warsaw convention, there are also certain provisions of the convention that are specific such as passengers’ tickets and baggage checks. The convention explicitly explains international carriage and its application, it also sets rules binding the carriage of documents.

As a legal framework, the Warsaw convention also specifies the carrier’s liability and limitations.  The convention provides a limitation which states that claims must be brought forward within two years. A carrier’s liability is also limited to 250,000 Francs or 16,600 special drawing rights (personal injury), $20 per kilogram for checked cargos and 5,00 Francs or 332 SDR for luggage.

Gold Francs were used as sums limiting  liability before they were amended by the Montreal Additional Protocol No. 2 to substitute SDRs terms. However, in cases where there is no countering agreement with the carrier, Gold Francs are valid as sums limiting liability.

According to the provisions of the Warsaw Convention, a complainant can file a lawsuit against the carrier at the carrier’s place of business, at the domicile of the carrier, at the place of destination or at where the contract was made. Since Clauses 17 and 18 of the Warsaw Convention states that carriers are liable for damages during a flight, a court can award a plaintiff costs unless an offer is made by the carrier with 6 months of loss or 6 months before any legal proceeding. Damages caused by passengers are not liable to be paid by the carrier. In order to avoid injury or death of passengers while on-board, airlines make use of doctors as temporary agents.

References for Warsaw Convention

Academic Research on Warsaw Convention

The United States and the Warsaw Convention, Lowenfeld, A. F., & Mendelsohn, A. I. (1967). Harvard Law Review, 497-602.

The Denunciation of the Warsaw Convention, Kreindler, L. S. (1965). J. Air L. & Com., 31, 291.

The cause of action under the Warsaw Convention, Calkins Jr, G. N. (1959). J. Air L. & Com., 26, 323.

The Warsaw Convention, Orr, G. W. (1945). Virginia Law Review, 423-437.

Judicial Juridiction under the Warsaw Convention, McKenry Jr, C. E. (1963). J. Air L. & Com., 29, 205.

New Warsaw Convention: The Montreal Convention, The, Whalen, T. J. (2000). Air & Space L., 25, 12.

International Unification of Private Law Rules on Air Transportation and the Warsaw Convention, Sack, A. N. (1933). Air L. Rev., 4, 345.

Recent Developments in the Warsaw Convention, Lacey, F. B. (1967). Ins. Counsel J., 34, 266.

The Warsaw Convention and the”Two-Tier” Gold Market, Heller, P. P. (1973). Journal of World Trade, 7(1), 126-129.

Evaluation of Proposals to Increase the Warsaw Convention Limit of Passenger Liability, Clare, J. E. (1949). J. Air L. & Com., 16, 53.

Notes on the Proposed Revision of Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention, Heller, P. P. (1971). International & Comparative Law Quarterly, 20(1), 142-148.

The Adequacy of the Passenger Liability Limits of the Warsaw Convention of 1929, Parker, J. B. B. (1947). J. Air L. & Com., 14, 37.

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