The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that an airline is liable for the harm caused by a spilt cup of hot coffee.
It comes on the back of a case taken by a young girl, who was scalded when her father's tray table tipped over for unknown reasons
The girl was seeking compensation from the now-insolvent Austrian airline Niki Luftfahrt.
The incident happened on a flight from Palma de Mallorca in Spain to Vienna.
The airline had argued that it was not liable, since it was not an accident associated with conditions on the flight.
It also could not be established whether the cup of coffee tipped over due to a defect in the folding tray table, or due to vibration of the aircraft.
The Austrian Supreme Court had asked the ECJ to clarify the concept of 'accident' within the meaning of the Montreal Convention, which does not define it.
The Montreal Convention governs the liability of airlines in the event of accidents.
The court concluded that both the ordinary meaning of the concept of 'accident' and the objectives of the Montreal Convention "preclude subjecting the liability of airlines to the condition that the damage is due to the materialisation of a hazard typically associated with aviation or to there being a connection between the 'accident' and the operation or movement of the aircraft."
The court also noted that the convention allows airlines to exclude or limit their liability.
An airline can be exonerated from its liability, or limit it, by proving that the passenger themselves caused or contributed to the damage.
The court found the 'accident' in question covers all situations on board an aircraft, in which an object used when serving passengers caused bodily injury to a passenger.