The ECJ on the meaning of “complaint in writing” in the Montreal Convention

Article 31 of the Montreal Convention requires, in case of loss or damage of baggage, that a complaint “in writing” is made within 7 days, failing which “no action shall lie against the carrier”.

In the context of proceedings before the Finnish Supreme Court, the question arose whether a complaint made by phone by the passenger and recorded in writing by the air carrier would satisfy the requirement of art. 31 of the Montreal Convention.

The ECJ, in a judgement issued on 12 April 2018 (case C-258/16, Finnair v. Fennia), having noted that the Montreal Convention aims to “an equitable balance”, held that the requirement of art 31 of the Montreal Convention is satisfied if a complaint is recorded in the information system of the carrier or when, with the knowledge of the passenger, a representative of the carrier has recorded the declaration of loss made orally by the passenger either on paper or electronically.