The Grounds for Limitation of Liability in Private Air Law

  • H. Drion


The global limitation of the shipowner’s liability has been called the ‘clé de voûte’, the ‘keystone’, of maritime law. International air law does not have a global limitation of liability, and if one had to characterize the importance of limitation of liability in the field of aviation it would be more appropriate to compare it with the ‘leitmotiv’ of some unfinished symphony. It certainly is not the only theme, but it is one that comes back every now and then and which makes international private air law, as it has developed in the last 25 years, unthinkable without a limitation of the carrier’s or operator’s liability.


Liability Insurance Individual Limit Brussels Convention Accident Insurance Catastrophical Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2).
    Among the more recent discussions of the rationale of the master’s liability for the acts of his servants see i. a. T.B. Barlow, South African Law of Vicarious Liability in Delict, etc. Capetown, 1939, pp. 177 sq.; B. Starck, Essai d’une théorie générale de la responsabilité civile, etc. Paris, 1947, pp. 204 sq.; W. J. Slagter, Rechtsgrond van de schadevergoeding bij onrechtmatige daad,’ s-Gravenhage, 1952, pp. 80 sq.; Mechem (1952) § 359; G. J. Hughes and A. H. Hudson, The Nature of a Master’s Liability in the Law of Tort, 31 Can. Bar Rev. (1953) 17 sq.Google Scholar
  2. 15. 1)
    See i. a. Ambrosini (1928) at p. 3; Knauth (1935) pp. 310/311; G. R. Sullivan in 7 J.A.L. (1936) 1 at 28Google Scholar
  3. A. N. Sack in 4 A.L.R. (1933), 345 at 354.Google Scholar
  4. 15. 3)
    E. Spasiano, Il Fondamento Logico del Principio Limitativo della Responsabilità Armatoriale, 9/14 R.D.N. (1943/48), 125–159.Google Scholar
  5. 2).
    Cf. H. Ussing, Scandinavian Law of Torts, Impact of Insurance on Tort Law, in 1 Am. J. Comp. Law (1952) 359 at 363: ‘I think that in tort law the most important problem of the near future is that of determining whether, or rather, how, tort law will be influenced by the growth of insurance’. See also the excellent study byCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. F. James Jr, Accident Liability Reconsidered: The Impact of Liability Insurance, 57 Yale L. Journ. (1948) 549–570; and the observations byCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. P. Chauveau in Le Droit Privé Français au Milieu du XXe Siècle. Etudes Offertes à G. Ripert, Paris, 1950, II, 398 sq. at 404/405, and byGoogle Scholar
  8. L. Vučina in 62 B.T.I. (1954) 42 sq. Of special importance to aviation is the study byGoogle Scholar
  9. J. L. François, Incidence des Assurances sur la Responsabilité du Transporteur Aérien (Exposé à la Chambre de Commerce Internat.) 6 R.F.D.A. (1952), 450–456.Google Scholar
  10. 3).
    Though the difference is slight for those who construe Art. 20 (1) so as to relieve an air carrier from liability when, in accidents due to an undiscovered cause, he is able to prove that he has taken all general measures as to airworthiness of the aircraft and ability of the crew to prevent the accident, without it being necessary for him to prove that up to the last moment before the accident happened his crew did not commit any negligent act. Thus O. Schreiber in 1 Z.G.L. (1930), 22, at 43; Müller (1932) p. 95; Goedhuis (1937) p. 239; Van Houtte (1940) No. 46; Lemoine (1947)-No. 821; J. Lacombe in 12 R.G.A. (1949) 822, 823; T. C. Giannini in 12 R.G.A. (1949) 334 at 342; (probably) Gay de Montellá (1950), pp. 544/546; Lefebvre d’Ovidio and Pescatore (1949), p. 277 (‘a carico del caricatore i danni [...] da causa ignota’); Chauveau (1951) No. 333. But most, if not all, of the court decisions, and a number of authors have construed Art. 20 (1) to mean that the carrier bears the risk of the cause of an accident remaining unknown. Thus Landgericht Frankfort/Main, 8.3. 1939, 9 A.L. (1939), 180, 187; Wyman and Bartlett v. Pan American Airways, 43 N.-Y.S. 2d 420, 1943 U.S.Av.R. 1, 3; Trib. civ. Brussels, 6.5.1950, 4 R.F.D.A. (1950) 411, 424 (Pauwels v. Sabena). In the same sense Koffka (1937) p. 326, Riese, (1949), p. 459, Abraham in 2 Z.L. (1953), 75 at 85. See also the discussion on Article 20 (1.) at the Rio Session (1953) of the Legal Committee of ICAO, I, pp. 80 sq. The whole problem has been extensively discussed by J. G. H. Sauveplanne, De onopgehelderde oorzaak in het luchtvervoersrecht in Rechtskundige Opstellen aangeboden aan R.P. Cleveringa. Zwolle, 1952, pp. 363 sq.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1954

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Drion

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations