Rights of Passengers in the Contract of Carriage by Air: A Critical Approach under the Nigerian Civil Aviation Law
Authors Ismail Adua Mustapha, Joana Kolo-Manma
Affiliations: Business Law Department, Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin; Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2018, p. 1 – 27
In reality, an air carrier may enter into a binding contractual relationship to air lift persons (passengers) or things from one place to an agreed destination. The binding nature of the contract between the parties brings about reciprocal contracting rights. The international community adopted a series of international conventions to regulate various types of contract by air as well as the rights and liabilities of passengers in contractual relationships with the airlines. Nigeria acceded to these conventions and transformed them into the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act, 2006. The paper therefore asks: ‘What are the rights of passengers in the contract of carriage by air under the Nigerian Civil Aviation laws?’ ‘Under what circumstances would the carrier be liable to passenger(s)?’ The paper adopts a qualitative method of legal research which includes interviews with the relevant aviation stakeholders in Nigeria. A critical analysis of the Nigerian civil aviation law will also be done to achieve the aim and objective of the paper. Also case law from other jurisdictions shall be called in aid to expatiate the provisions of the Montreal Convention, 1999, as domesticated and modified by the Nigerian civil aviation law(s) not yet tested in Nigerian courts. It is found that rights such as the right to a passengers’ ticket, the right to seek redress in court in the event of unforeseen circumstance(s) and the right to compensation of passengers are stated in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act, 2006, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs), 2015. It also found that these laws did not provide for damages in case of breach of basic fundamental human rights of passengers. It was further found that wilful, negligent and careless misconduct of the airline must be proved so that the carrier will not be able to avail itself of the exclusion and limitation of liability clauses in the Convention as domesticated by the Civil Aviation Act, 2006. The paper concludes that the current state of the laws is unsatisfactory, and therefore recommends that the laws be reviewed to include claims for damages to be awarded to the victims whose basic fundamental human right(s) are unlawfully breached.