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 It is designed to replace the complicated and outdated ‘Warsaw System’ of carriers' liability.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 in the process of updating key aspects of Australia’s aviation insurance and liability framework under the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 (CACL Act). This work commenced through the discussion paper process in April 2018 to gather stakeholder views and feedback (Discussion Paper PDF: 665 KB ReadSpeaker). The main focus of this discussion paper was 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.

Considering the responses to the discussion paper and the current iteration of regulations due to sunset in October 2019, the Regulations are being remade largely in the same form, with updates to liability limits, updates to CASA delegations and the modernisation of language. Increasing the limit of liability and keeping the Regulations largely unchanged is the result of consultation on the discussion paper, where it was determined a direct inflation method would be best suited to the domestic aviation market.

In continuing the consultation process and the development of Australia’s aviation insurance and liability framework, an exposure draft of the updated and proposed CACLR has been prepared. This exposure draft is a key part of this review, providing an opportunity for stakeholders to share their views and identify any technical flaws in the drafting PDF: 432 KB ReadSpeaker.

It is important to note that we are only seeking feedback on technical aspects of the updated CALCR and that the increased liability limits will come into force on 1 October 2019, industry participants requiring insurance will need to take this into consideration.

Updates to the CACL Act remain under consideration and further work will be progressed on completion of remaking the Regulations.

Responding to the Exposure Draft

The closing date for submissions is 31 July 2019. If you would like to respond but will be unable to do so by this date, please contact the department to discuss your options.

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


Att: Trade and Aviation Market Policy
GPO Box 594


If you have questions about this exposure draft, 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 Exposure Draft close on 31 July 2019.


Last Updated: 11 July, 2019