England: Article 17 of the Montreal Convention

Barclay v British Airways PLC [2008] 1 Lloyds Rep. 661B was flying from Phoenix to Heathrow. She slipped on a plastic strip embedded in the floor of the aircraft as she was making her way along a row of seats to her own seat. She claimed under the provisions of the Montreal Convention. BA claimed that she had failed to establish that she had sustained her injury as a result of “an accident” on board the aircraft. The Convention required that what happened had to be more than a mere event or occurrence and the accident and the injury had to be separate things. The court held that the fall had to have been caused by an unusual or unexpected event external to B. The mere fact that she fell was not external to B for the purposes of the Convention. She had not established that the plastic strip had caused her fall and even if she had there was nothing unusual or unexpected about its presence.The Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal. Article 17 of the Montreal Convention required there to be an unexpected and unusual event or happening external to the passenger. There was no accident external to B and no event which happened independently of her. The accident occurred as a result of the passenger’s particular, personal or peculiar reaction to the normal operation of the aircraft.

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