THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

The Rome Convention and its modernization

 

The operation of aircraft could cause damage on the surface to persons who are not in any contractual relation with the operator of the aircraft; thus, there was a need to guarantee that sufficient funds would be available to compensate for the damage on the ground.

 

The Comité International Technique d'Experts Juridiques Aériens (CITEJA) already started to work on the above issue as early as 1930; the Third International Conference on Private Air Law met at the Accademia dei Lincei, Palazzo Corsini, Rome, Italy from 15 to 29 May 1933. This conference adopted on 29 May 1933 two conventions, as follows: 1) The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface; and 2) The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to the Precautionary Arrest of Aircraft. Both conventions were signed on 29 May 1933 by 20 States. The purpose of these conventions were to ensure adequate compensation for persons who suffer damage caused on the surface by foreign aircraft while limiting in a reasonable manner the extent of liabilities incurred for such damage in order not to hinder the development of international air transport.

 

Italy – 29 September 1952

Diplomatic Conference on International Air Law

This Conference adopted the Rome Convention on Damage Caused By Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface

 

Trieste Zone A – 1 October 1952

The above Italian stamp was overprinted with AMG‑FTT (Allied Military Government ‑ Free Territory of Trieste) by the Allied Military Government of U.S. and Great Britain.

 

This Convention was amended by the Brussels Protocol signed on 29 May 1933 during the Fourth International Conference on Private Air Law which met at the Palais des Académies, Brussels, Belgium from 19 to 30 September 1938. This Protocol permitted insurers to use some basic defences. The 1933 Convention did not achieve wide acceptance and was expressly overtaken by the 1952 Rome Convention. The war interrupted further development of the international unification of private air law.

 

After the war, ICAO returned to the subject when it requested the Legal Committee to resume the studies of liabilities to third parties. Attended by delegates and observers from 32 states and seven international organizations, a Diplomatic Conference on International Air Law, convened by ICAO in Rome, Italy (in the FAO Palace) at the invitation of the Italian Government, met from 9 September to 6 October 1952. This was the first post-war Diplomatic Conference on Private International Air Law, and in fact the fifth of a series of periodic international conferences; the previous ones had been held in 1925 (at Paris), in 1929 (at Warsaw), in 1933 (at Rome) and in 1938 (at Brussels). An amended Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface was adopted and signed on 7 October 1952 to unify, on an international level, the law relating to recovery by persons who suffer damage caused on the surface by foreign aircraft, while limiting the liabilities of those responsible for such damage. The Convention also deals with a host of related matters such as apportionment of claims, financial security requirements, jurisdiction and enforcement of judgements. Entered into force on 4 February 1958, the new Convention was the result of several years’ work by the ICAO Legal Committee; in drafting the new Convention, account was taken of the legal and economic problems arising from the tremendous development of international air transport after World War II. The negative element of the new Convention was the severe limitation of liability.

 

ICAO continued studies related to the 1952 Rome Convention. An International Conference on Air Law was convened at Montreal from 6 to 23 September 1978. The Protocol to Amend the Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface was adopted and signed on 23 September 1978, and in particular increased the limits of liability. Delegates from 58 States participated in this Conference. The Protocol entered into force on 25 July 2002. However, neither the Rome Convention nor the Montreal Protocol have received wide acceptance. One of the reasons for this situation is that the limits of liability in the Convention and the Protocol are perceived as inadequate. Furthermore, the regime of absolute liability, the jurisdictional clauses, and provisions relating to financial security have also been regarded by some as not fully satisfactory.

 

The 31st Session of the Legal Committee (Montreal, 28 August to 8 September 2000) included in its Work Programme the subject  “Consideration of the modernization of the Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface signed at Rome on 7 October 1952“. A Special Group on the modernization of the Rome Convention developed two draft Conventions: 1) Convention on Compensation for Damage to Third Parties, Resulting from Acts of Unlawful Interference Involving Aircraft; 2) Convention on Compensation for Damage Caused by Aircraft to Third Parties. These two drafts were considered and adopted at the International Conference on Air Law on Compensation for Damage Caused by Aircraft to Third Parties Arising from Acts of Unlawful Interference or from General Risks, held at Montreal from 20 April to 2 May 2009.

 

The objective with these two new air law conventions is to ensure equitable benefits for victims while not unduly increasing the economic and regulatory burden on carriers; the fight against the effects of terrorism and the improvement of the status of victims involving aircraft form the cornerstone of the two new conventions. The one legal instrument adopted by the Conference is the Convention on Compensation for Damage to Third Parties, Resulting from Acts of Unlawful Interference Involving Aircraft. At the heart of this new instrument, is the creation of an International Civil Aviation Compensation Fund, which may potentially provide victims of an event compensation in addition to that paid by the aircraft operator, up to an amount of 3 billion Special Drawing Rights (approximately US $4.5 billion). The other instrument, the Convention on Compensation for Damage Caused by Aircraft to Third Parties, modernizes the current legal framework provided for under the 1952 Rome Convention and related Montreal Protocol of 1978. It covers cases of damage caused by aircraft as a result of safety related matters and not involving an act of unlawful interference and provides for full compensation of victims.

 

 

Italy – 29 September 1952

Diplomatic Conference on International Air Law

First Day Covers

 

 

 

 

Trieste Zone A – 1 October 1952

Diplomatic Conference on International Air Law

First Day Covers and Maximum Card

 

 

Montreal - 20 April to 2 May 2009 - Commemorative postcard

International Conference on Air Law on Compensation for Damage Caused by Aircraft to Third Parties Arising from Acts of Unlawful Interference or from General Risks

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