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Scope of the aeronautical protest in the 1999 Montreal Convention

By: Guillermo Esteban León Arévalo


Since its signature, the Montreal Convention has become one of the most important multilateral treaties in the field of international air transport. This treaty establishes certain rules regarding the carrier's liability for damages caused to passengers, baggage and cargo.

Ratified by more than 132 ICAO member states, and approved by Colombia through Law 701 of 2001, it is undoubtedly one of the treaties that establishes greater protection in favor of passengers against claims against the carrier for various damages.

In this sense, the treaty establishes the procedure to be followed by the passenger in case of damage to his checked baggage. The second paragraph of article 31 establishes that "the consignee must submit a protest to the carrier immediately after the damage is noticed or, at the latest, within seven days from the date of receipt", while the third paragraph of the same article establishes that "any protest must be made in writing".

On this particular point, the following question arises in practice, and it is whether the completion of the "Baggage Irregularity Report" (PIR), by the passenger, can be considered as a protest in the light of the Montreal Convention? The truth is that this is a problem of interpretation of the rule, as regards the meaning and scope of the protest.

It is clear that there are only two requirements that must be met for the protest to be understood as filed in due form, one, the deadline, and two, the formality. In this case, the deadline is immediately after noticing the damage or, at the latest, on the seventh day of receipt of the baggage; and the formality, that it be in writing.

Therefore, if the passenger informs the carrier within seven days that his baggage did not arrive at its destination in regular condition, through the completion of the PIR, it is understood that he is making a protest in a broad sense, under the terms of Article 31 of the treaty, being unnecessary for the passenger to file a formal complaint. This is due, in part, to the de-formalization established by the Montreal Convention regarding the documentary requirements in the presentation of claims against the carrier.



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