Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The Warsaw Convention, now over 45 years old, was originally designed to aid the growth of a new, undeveloped, and somewhat perplexing commercial enterprise--the international air transportation industry. Unfortunately, the drafters of the Convention took a narrow, and perhaps ill-advised, view of regulation of liability. They limited the carriers' liability for damage to an amount that could easily have been foreseen to be unworkable and they defined the concept of fault in ambiguous terms. While this fledgling attempt to codify an area of private international law was meant to provide a uniformity of terms that would be workable in a variety of legal systems, the result has been an increasing breakdown of the Convention's concepts in the courts of the ratifying states.

This note will analyze one of the inadequacies of the Warsaw Convention--the limitation of liability for passenger injury--on a comparative basis. The analysis will first give a brief historical background of the Warsaw Convention. Second, the basic nature of French tort concepts in relation to carrier liability and the specific application of those concepts to airline cases in France will be discussed. Finally, a brief overview of the standards employed in England, Germany, and the Soviet Union will be given.