A Review of Warsaw Convention – 1929

A Review of Warsaw Convention – 1929

Head of Sales , Intel

This convention is for the unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air, known as Warsaw Convention signed at Warsaw on 12.OCT.1929.

It was amended first, in 1955 in Hauge, Netherland and again amended in Guadalajara in 1961, then in Guatemala in 1971 and further in Montreal in 1975, that we are going to talk about them in further pages.

On 12.OCT.1929 Warsaw convention signed by 23 countries. This convention became effective in FEB.1933. It covers the international rules for carriage of passenger, luggage and cargo among the countries and specified the limits of liability in case of Damage, Loss and delay in carriage by Air.

There are five chapters in the convention:

  • Chapter 1 – Scope/Definitions
  • Chapter 2 – Documents of carriage
  • Chapter 3 – Liability of the carrier
  • Chapter 4 – Provisions relating to combined carriage
  • Chapter 5 – General and final provisions

Below are the summery of few important articles of the convention:

  • In Chapter One – Scope & Definitions:
    • Warsaw convention Applies to all international carriage of persons, luggage or goods performed by aircraft for reward. It also applies to gratuitous carriage. (Article 1)

From this article we can also find that both countries of origin and destination should be part of the convention so that the regulations of this convention shall be applicable.

  • Warsaw Convention does not apply to carriage performed under the terms of any international postal conventions (Article 2)
  • In Chapter 2 – Documents of carriage
    • Set rules for issuing passenger ticket by carrier and the details that should be reflected on the ticket (Article 3)
    • For the carriage of luggage, other than those passenger takes charge himself, the carrier must deliver a luggage ticket which specified in Article 4.
    • Every carrier of goods has the right to require the consignor to make out and hand over to him a document called “air consignment note (AWB). (Article 5)
    • The air consignment note shall be made out by consignor in three original parts and be handed over with the goods.

The first part shall be marked “for the carrier” and shall be signed by the consignor.

The second part shall be marked “for the consignee and shall be signed by the consignor and by the carrier and shall accompany the goods.

The third part shall be signed by the carrier and handed by him to the consignor after the goods have been accepted.

If at the request of consignor, the carrier makes out the air consignment note, he shall be deemed, subject to the proof of a contrary, to have done so on behalf of the consignor (Article 6)

It is not out of place to mention that, based on the articles 2 to 5, carrier is responsible to issue ticket for passenger and luggage ticket but for cargo, the responsibility to prepare the AWB is given to the Shipper.

  • The carrier has the right to require the consignor to make out separate consignment notes when there is more than one package. (Article 7)

What is the logic behind this rule?

It may be due to the space. Suppose a carrier has one weekly flight, with the capacity of 5 tons. If there is a shipment of 10 TONS, it is wise to ask the customer to issue two AWBs for the shipment. It will stop consignee to claim for delay in delivery in future.

The other point is the warehouse charges. Part of the cargo may remain at origin in GHA warehouse and GHA may ask for the warehouse charges. The other part that has been sent, should remain at destination warehouse and consignee should pay extra warehouse charges. 

  • Article 8 specifies what a consignment note shall contain.
  • If the carrier accepts the goods without AWB or the AWB does not contain the particulars mentioned in article 8, the carrier shall not be entitled to avail himself of the provisions of this convention which exclude or limit his liability. (Article 9)
  • The consignor is responsible for the correctness of the particulars and statements related to the goods which he inserts in the air consignment note.

The consignor will be liable for the damages suffered by the carrier or any other person by reason of irregularity, incorrectness or incompleteness of the said particulars and statements.(Article 10)

  • The air consignment note is prima face evidence
    • Of the conclusion of the contract,
    • Of the receipt of the goods and,
    • Of the conditions of carriage

The statement in air consignment note relating to the weight, dimensions and packaging of the goods, as well as those relating to the number of packages, are prima face evidence of the facts stated; those relating to the quantity, volume and condition of the goods do not constitute evidence against the carrier except so far as they both have been, and are stated in the air consignment note to have been , checked by him in the presence of the consignor, or related to the apparent condition of the goods.(Article 11)

  • Subject to his liability to carry out all his obligations under the contract of carriage, the consignor has the right to
    • dispose of the goods by withdrawing them at the aerodrome of departure or destination,
    • or by stopping them in the course of the journey on any landing,
    • or by calling for them to be delivered at the place of destination
    • or in the course of the journey to a person other than the consignee named in the air consignment note,
    • or by requiring them to be returned to the aerodrome of departure.

He must not exercise this right of disposition in such a way as to prejudice the carrier or other consignors and he must repay any expenses occasioned by the exercise of this right.

If it is impossible to carry out the orders of the consignor the carrier must so inform him forthwith.

If the carrier obeys the orders of the consignor for the disposition of the goods without requiring the production of the part of the air consignment note delivered to the latter, he will be liable, without prejudice to his right of recovery from the consignor, for any damage which may be caused thereby to any person who is lawfully in possession of that part of the air consignment note.

The right conferred on the consignor ceases at the moment when that of the consignee begins in accordance with Article 13. Nevertheless, if the consignee declines to accept the consignment note or the goods, or if he cannot be communicated with, the consignor resumes his right of disposition (Article 12)

Here we may need to talk more about this part as it is an important part of the convention. Shipper has the right to return the goods or deliver the cargo at destination to someone else, or …. normally in case of receiving shipper’s request, we may better get a confirmation from consignee for the changes to avoid possible fraud and further claims of the parties.

However, as per article 13 of the convention, consignee has the right to ask for AWB and goods on arrival of the cargo at destination, so Airline may better to ask for consignee’s confirmation in case shipper has already requested to return the goods to origin or deliver to someone else at destination.

The local regulations of destinations may be observed as well. When a cargo arrives to the customs territory of one state, the cargo may be considered as Customs belonging and only when the original consignee pays the tax and dues, he will be considered as owner of the goods. In such circumstances, for return the cargo to origin or delivering the goods to someone other than the one mentioned on the AWB, the approval of Customs shall be received as well. 

  • Except in the circumstances set out in the preceding Article, the consignee is entitled, on arrival of the goods at the place of destination, to require the carrier to hand over to him the air consignment note and to deliver the goods to him, on payment of the charges due and on complying with the conditions of carriage set out in the air consignment note.

Unless it is otherwise agreed, it is the duty of the carrier to give notice to the consignee as soon as the goods arrive.

If the carrier admits the loss of the goods, or if the goods have not arrived at the expiration of seven days after the date on which they ought to have arrived, the consignee is entitled to put into force against the carrier the rights which flow from the contract of carriage. (Article 13)

  • The consignor and the consignee can respectively enforce all the rights given them by Articles 12 and 13, each in his own name, whether he is acting in his own interest or in the interest of another, provided that he carries out the obligations imposed by the contract (Article 14)

Based on this article, in case the shipment is not based on a letter of credit, and if consignee has already paid the value of the shipment to the shipper, consignee can ask the shipper to transfer the right of Article 12 to him and mention the same in the body of the AWB. This way, shipper will not be able to ask the carrier to change the name of consignee or returning the shipment to origin.

  • Shipper is responsible to provide necessary documents that may be needed at destination for customs or police or… Carrier is not require to check the correctness of such documents. (Article 16)

In chapter 3 – Liability of the Carrier:

  • The carrier is liable for damage sustained in the event of the death or wounding of a passenger or any other bodily injury suffered by a passenger, if the accident which caused the damage so sustained took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking. (Article17)

We can find the amount considered as a liability of the carrier in the event of the death or wounding of a passenger took place on board the aircraft or in course of embarking or disembarking and also for the loss, damage and delay in delivery of cargo and baggage of the passenger.

These rules stated in article 17 to article 30.

  • Defines the limit of liability of a carrier for,
    • Each passenger to 125,000 francs,
    • Registered luggage and for cargo to 250 francs per kilogram,
    • Objects, passenger takes charge himself, to 5,000 francs per passenger,

Here the carrier and the passenger can agree to a higher limit of liability by special contract for a passenger or by a special declaration of the value of the goods at the time of delivery and payment of a sum, as required by the carrier. Below comes the exact article of the convention

  • In the carriage of passengers, the liability of the carrier for each passenger is limited to the sum of 125,000 francs. Where, in accordance with the law of the Court seised of the case, damages may be awarded in the form of periodical payments, the equivalent capital value of the said payments shall not exceed 125,000 francs. Nevertheless, by special contract, the carrier and the passenger may agree to a higher limit of liability.

In the carriage of registered luggage and of goods, the liability of the carrier is limited to a sum of 250 francs per kilogram, unless the consignor has made, at the time when the package was handed over to the carrier, a special declaration of the value at delivery and has paid a supplementary sum if the case so requires. In that case the carrier will be liable to pay a sum not exceeding the declared sum, unless he proves that that sum is greater than the actual value to the consignor at delivery.

As regards objects of which the passenger takes charge himself the liability of the carrier is limited to 5,000 francs per passenger.

The sums mentioned above shall be deemed to refer to the French franc consisting of 65 ½ milligrams gold of millesimal fineness 900. These sums may be converted into any national currency in round figures. (Article 22) 

  • In the case of damage, the person entitled to delivery must complain to the carrier forthwith after the discovery of the damage, and, at the latest, within three days from the date of receipt in the case of luggage and seven days from the date of receipt in the case of goods. In the case of delay the complaint must be made at the latest within fourteen days from the date on which the luggage or goods have been placed at his disposal (Article 26)

The complaint for the damage should be filled immediately after the discovery of the damage and at the latest within 3 days for the luggage and 7 days for the goods. In case of delay, the complaint should be made at the latest 14 days from the date luggage or goods have been placed at passenger/customer’s disposal.

  • The right to damages shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within two years, reckoned 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 the carriage stopped.
  • The method of calculating the period of limitation shall be determined by the law of the Court seised of the case (Article 29)

In this chapter you can also find article talking about:

  • The period of the carriage, when a shipment is out of the airport (Article 18)
  • If carrier proves that accident happened was out of his control (Article 20)
  • If the carrier proves that the damage caused by negligence of the injured person (Article 21)
  • Not having the possibility to agree on a lower sum of liability (Article 24)
  • The places that at the option of the plaintiff, an action of the damage can be brought to the court (Article 28)
    • before the Court having jurisdiction where the carrier is ordinarily resident
    • his principal place of business,
    • has an establishment by which the contract has been made,
    • before the Court having jurisdiction at the place of destination

The sum of liability mentioned in article 22 in French Franc based on gold later amended by the Montreal Additional Protocol No.2 to substitute by the expression given in terms of SDR.

As of 2015, the Warsaw Convention had been ratified by 152 states. The Hauge protocol to the convention had been ratified by 137 states