Nova Scotia Court Upholds Montreal Convention Limitation Period

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has become the latest Canadian Court to strictly uphold the two year limitation period found in the Montreal Convention.  In Lemieux v. Halifax International Airport Authority, 2011 NSSC 396, the plaintiff fell on the apron at Stanfield International Airport while boarding an Air Canada flight.  She sued both Air Canada and the Halifax International Airport Authority.  The injury occurred on August 11, 2005 and the action was commenced on April 21, 2011, approximately five and one-half years later. There was no dispute that the plaintiff’s carriage was international and that the Montreal Convention applied to her claim against the carrier.

Article 35 of the Montreal Convention requires an action to be brought against the carrier within two years. Nova Scotia law at the time permitted a plaintiff to commence an action for bodily injury within 6 years from the date of loss.

The Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that Nova Scotia domestic law applied. Justice Hood commented “The Montreal Convention is a complete Code on the subject of airline liability and the plaintiff has not brought her action within the two year limitation period set out in the Convention.  That provision is a substantive one and ousts the jurisdiction of domestic courts in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere) to apply their own law to the limitation period.”

The action against Air Canada was therefore dismissed on summary judgment.

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