The Hague Protocol
The Hague Protocol is an amendment to the Warsaw Convention, a treaty that governs the responsibilities and liabilities an airline has toward its passengers. The Hague Protocol was ratified in the Hague, Netherlands, in 1955.
When the Warsaw Convention was ratified in 1929, one of its objectives was to protect burgeoning airlines from possible financial ruin by limiting the damages they would owe in the event of a mass disaster.
By the 1950s, however, the airline industry had grown rapidly, and some provisions of the original treaty were starting to become outdated. The liability limit in particular (which, at the time, equaled about $8,300 per passenger) was seen as an insufficient recovery amount especially since the air carriers were much more financially secure.
The Hague Protocol maintained the liability limit but doubled the amount airlines would pay. For several years, the United States pushed to raise the limits much higher and was disappointed with the amendment.
It is the position of the American Trial Lawyers Association that the conditions existing at the time the United States adhered to the Warsaw Convention have drastically changed to the point where the airline industry, particularly American air carriers, have attained maturity and economic security and should not be favored at the expense of the traveling public.
Only 137 of the original 152 signatories of the Warsaw Convention ratified the Hague Protocol. The United States was one of those nations that did not sign on as the liability cap was still considered inadequate.
Eventually, both the Warsaw Convention and the Hague Protocol were replaced by the Montreal Convention in 1999.