March 4, 2016 – More next-of-kin of those on board the missing flight Malaysia Airlines flight M370 are filing suits against the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines as the deadline for legal action against the carrier approaches.
The Montreal Convention stipulates that cause of action against an airline has to be brought within two years of the day of travel or the date the aircraft should have arrived at its destination. That day falls on March 8.
Earlier today, at least 11 suits seeking damages were brought by family members against the airline, the government and other relevant bodies at the Kuala Lumpur High Court. More applications are expected to be filed next week before the deadline.
On Feb 23, VOICE370, an international network of next-of-kin, issued a statement complaining of restrictions to filing suits, such as legally requiring the permission of the administrator of Malaysia Airlines System Berhad (MAS) to do so.
In May 2015, Khazanah Nasional, the sole shareholder of MAS, had appointed an administrator to oversee the transfer of selected assets and liabilities from MAS to a new company, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), which began operations in September.
But Administrator Mohammad Faiz Azmi said MAS had not rejected any applications and that it had upheld its responsibilities “in accordance with applicable international conventions and law”.
“MAS has on numerous occasions kept all next-of-kin (NOK) informed of the two-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention, which in the case of MH370 ends on 8 March 2016, in order to ensure that those affected take the necessary steps to preserve their legal rights,” he said in a statement.
“To date, the Administrator has granted a total of 96 requests from NOK to commence legal proceedings. No requests have been rejected. In addition, 42 NOK have collected full compensation.”
Earlier today, the court heard an application by the government, MAB, the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation and the chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force to strike out a suit filed by the two teenage children and relatives of Tan Ah Meng and Chuang Hsiu Ling – who were onboard the plane with their eldest child, Tan Wei Chew, 19.
The defendants are arguing the family’s suit seeking unspecified damages for negligence, breach of contract and breach of statutory duty were “frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process”.
The plane, which disappeared after inexplicably diverting from its planned Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route, had mostly Chinese, Malaysian and Australian passengers on board.
Relatives of MH370 passengers have issued an emotional plea to keep searching beyond July, with one group representing the families begging authorities not to “simply chalk it up as an unsolvable mystery”.
Only a two-metre-long flaperon wing part that washed up on a Indian Ocean island beach last July has been confirmed as from the aircraft, although suspected debris found in Mozambique this week could be another breakthrough.