Overview of Aviation Regulations
What is the governing legislation?
The provisions of the Warsaw Convention (“WC”), the Warsaw (Hague) Convention (“WH”), the Warsaw (Hague)(Montreal) Convention (“WHM”) and the Montreal Convention 1999 (“MC 99”) have the force of law in Singapore by virtue of the Carriage of Goods by Air Act (Cap 32A) and the Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention, 1999 Act) (Cap 32B).
What is the limitation period?
In general, no action can be brought after more than two years from the date of arrival at the destination or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived or from the date on which carriage stopped whichever is later.
Are there any limitations on liability and compensation amounts?
Each of the Conventions have different limitation amounts. At its most basic, which Convention applies depends on the route of the carrier and specifically the Conventions ratified by the country of departure and the country of arrival.
MC 99 Limits
In the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay with respect to baggage, the limitation amount is 1,131 SDR per passenger. In the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay with respect to cargo, the limitation amount is 19 SDR per kilogram of cargo (The current exchange rate is 1.9304 as of June 2016).
In the case of registered baggage and cargo, the liability of the carrier is limited to a sum of 250 francs per kg (Under Singapore law, 250 francs = SGD 45.98 as provided for under the Carriage by Air (Singapore Currency Equivalents) Order.
For example, both Singapore and the UK have ratified the MC 99. Therefore, loss or damage which occurs on a carriage from Singapore to the UK will be governed by the MC 99. (This example is just for illustration purposes because in modern times, routes are of course rarely so straight forward especially when there are successive carriages or return flights).
As a general rule, the limits of liability shall not apply if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission of the carrier, his servant or agents, done with intent to cause damage or recklessly and with knowledge that damage would probably result. The burden of proving these requirements naturally lie with the person seeking to break limitation.
To break limitation, it is necessary to identity the causative act or omission on the part of the carrier that caused the loss. The act or omission required foresight of the very loss that actually occurs, not merely of the type of loss that occurs. For limitation to be broken, the state of mind of the person seeking to limit liability must either be ‘intent to cause such loss’ which refers to subjective intent or recklessness and with knowledge that such loss would probably result. Both reckless conduct as well as knowledge that the relevant loss would probably result must be shown by the party attempting to break limitation. The gargantuan task of proving causation has led some to state that limits are “virtually unbreakable”.
Author: Esther Quah