AuthorJohn D. Holding
The law of international air carriage is truly unique in source and
character. No other area of ordinary and popular human activity is
governed so exclusively by international law. Every year, hundreds
of thousands of Canadians engage in international air travel for
business and pleasure. I suspect that a relatively small number
fully appreciate that their rights as passengers and the obligations
of the airlines as carriers are exclusively dependant upon a system
of law codified in international treaties.
On 4 November 2003, the Montreal Convention of 1999
came into force. This historic date marked the culmination of
many years of effort in conferences and negotiations intended to
reform and consolidate the law of international air carriage which
had existed since 1933 under the old Warsaw system.
Thirty-one nations were parties to the Montreal Convention
when it came into force, including Canada and the United States.
This number rose to fifty-two by 6 June 2004, on which date the
nations of the European Union implemented the treaty, and has
since risen to sixty-two. This leaves, however, eighty-two nations
governed by the Warsaw Convention amended at The Hague, and
another sixteen nations still governed solely by the original War-
saw treaty. The current status, therefore, is two parallel systems of

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