The Montreal Convention: Can Passengers Finally Recover for Mental Injuries?

40 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2010

See all articles by McKay Cunningham

McKay Cunningham

Concordia University School of Law

Date Written: 2008


Since the 1920’s, recovery for accidents suffered on international flights has been subject to the Warsaw Convention’s limitation of “bodily injury.” To address perceived inequities stemming from this limitation, courts stretched, and the resulting and fragmented judicial precedent threatened the treaty’s goal of international unity. Although Warsaw’s long-awaited replacement, the Montreal Convention, retains the “bodily injury” language, a close study of the treaty’s history and more importantly, the negotiations among the signatories’ delegates suggests that the great majority of nations intended to broaden allowable recovery beyond strict bodily injury and that many had in fact already interpreted the phrase to include mental injury. Further, the policy informing the new treaty substantively changed from protecting the airline industry to protecting the passenger.

As a result, courts faced with claims under the Montreal Convention must undertake a materially different analysis from those courts that addressed similar claims under the Warsaw Convention.

Suggested Citation

Cunningham, McKay, The Montreal Convention: Can Passengers Finally Recover for Mental Injuries? (2008). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2008. Available at SSRN:

McKay Cunningham (Contact Author)

Concordia University School of Law ( email )

501 W. Front St
Boise, ID 83702
United States

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