LAWGENRL 436 - Air and Space Law

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures – 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Kim Murray
Guest Lecturer: Marion Hiriart
Prerequisites: LAW 211, 241
Students are encouraged to take LAW 201, LAW 231 and LAWPUBL 402 International Law before or while taking this course, but they are not formal prerequisites.

Course description

Air and space law is mainly a specialised field of public international law but with important aspects governed by successful private international law treaties.  The implementation of this law in New Zealand involves many challenging issues in constitutional law, administrative law, tort law and other fields of law.  The course will cover the most important aspects of international air and space law with examples of how the international law has been implemented and applied in the New Zealand legal system.  Topical aviation industry issues such as the challenges of regulating remotely piloted aircraft (drones) and unruly passengers may also be included.

Content outline

  • The nature and sources of air and space law including the spatial delimitation of land, sea, air and outer space;
  • The significance of airspace sovereignty and state jurisdiction over aircraft and space vehicles;
  • The legal framework for the conduct of international commercial air services including the so-called “freedoms of the air”;
  • The legal and institutional framework for aviation safety and security established by the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation including the law-making procedures of the International Civil Aviation Organisation;
  • The obligation of states in relation to search and rescue and aircraft accident investigation with reference to New Zealand and international accidents such as MH37, MH17 and the German Wings tragedy;
  • The liability of air carriers for carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo under the 1999 Montreal Convention;
  • The principal space treaties and the New Zealand Outer Space and High-altitude Activities Act 2017.


1,500 word assignment (20%)

2 hour open book exam (80%)

Recommended text

  • Pablo Mendes de Leon An Introduction to Air Law (Revised 10th edition, Wolters Kluwer).
  • I.H.Ph. Diederiks-Verschoor, V Kopal An Introduction to Space Law (Revised 3rd Edition, Wolters Kluwer).