Air Carriers' Liability and Insurance

Australia's carriers' liability and insurance arrangements are outlined in the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959 (the CACL Act).

The Act gives the force of law to a number of passenger liability frameworks, including those arising under the ‘Warsaw System’, the Montreal Convention, and a separate system of liability for domestic travel.

The liability framework for domestic passenger travel is created under Part IV of the Act, and is complemented by state government legislation to create a national uniform scheme.

Arrangements for compulsory passenger insurance are outlined in Part IVA of the Act.

Liability arrangements for third party (surface) victims are outlined in the Damage by Aircraft Act 1999 (the DBA Act).

Montreal Convention

The 1999 Montreal Convention came into effect for Australia on 24 January 2009.

The Montreal Convention is an international agreement which updates laws relating to carriers' liability. It is designed to replace the complicated and outdated ‘Warsaw System’ of carriers' liability.

The Montreal Convention was implemented in Australia by the Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (1999 Montreal Convention and Other Measures) Act 2008. This legislation followed extensive consultation with interested industries.

Warsaw Convention

The Warsaw Convention was signed in 1929 and deals with the rules of liability governing international carriage of persons, baggage and cargo by aircraft. The Convention has been amended on a piecemeal basis over succeeding years by a number of protocols and conventions.

The Warsaw Conventions and the various amending instruments to which Australia is a party are given the force of law in Australia by the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959.

For further information:

Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Review

The department is currently reviewing several key aspects of Australia’s aviation insurance and liability framework under the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 (CACL Act) and Damage by Aircraft Act 1999 (DBA Act). The review is an important part of keeping Australia’s aviation regulatory framework up-to-date.

A discussion paper process is being conducted to gather stakeholder views and feedback. The main focus of this discussion paper is on Civil Aviation Carriers’ Liability, particularly:

  • updating liability thresholds under the CACL Act.
  • reviewing the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Regulations 1991 (the CACLR).
  • reviewing current insurance exclusions, particularly War Risk.

Respondents are also invited to raise any other issues they consider relevant to aviation liability and insurance. The discussion paper will be used to collect feedback on current arrangements, identify issues for further consideration and explore options for future reform.

Responding to this Discussion Paper

The preferred method for receiving submissions is electronically via email. Submissions may also be made in hard copy at the address provided.

The closing date for submissions is 31 August 2018. If you would like to respond but will be unable to do so by this date, please contact the department to discuss your options.

If you have any questions about responding to the discussion paper, please contact the department:


Att: Trade and Aviation Market Policy
GPO Box 594


If you have questions about this discussion paper, or how to respond, please contact the department:

phone: 02 6274 8137 or 02 6274 7064

Don’t forget:

Please provide your contact details so the department can follow up on any issues raised.

Closing date:

Responses to the Discussion Paper closed on 31 August 2018 and the Government is currently considering the submissions.


Last Updated: 19 December, 2018