27 Apr 2016

Compensation Awarded for Flight Delay – County Court Rules Aircraft Damage by Passenger is Non-extraordinary

A Birmingham County Court Judge today awarded compensation to Ms Edwards following her nine-hour delay on a Thomas Cook flight. The cause of the delay was damage to an emergency door following a passenger accident many hours earlier. The airline had to fly replacement parts in from abroad to fix the problem, hence the delay. Ms Edwards had spent three years fighting for compensation, as the airline had repeatedly rejected her claim stating that damage by passengers was beyond their control. If delays are caused by factors outside of the control of the airline, and not inherent in the operation of an airline, then airlines can use the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ defence against paying compensation.

Although some people have touted this as a ‘landmark ruling’, this judgement is not binding on lower Courts, so does not affect other similar cases. However, it is in keeping with a general shift in the way County Courts rule on Regulation EC261/2004 claims. Historically, judges are all too ready to rule in favour of airlines in such cases, deeming that passenger damage is outside of the control of the airline. But in this case the judge ruled that the operational effectiveness of the airline’s fleet was the sole responsibility of the airline, regardless of whether the plane was damaged by a passenger. It is also worth noting that aircraft damage by passengers is inherent in the operation of an airline, and so not ‘extraordinary’.

Although this ruling is not binding on other Courts, there is the possibility that the airline will appeal the ruling. If the appeals process is followed and the case eventually ends up in a high enough Court, there is the possibility that a ruling is made which will then be binding on County Courts.

A Claim4Flights spokesperson said, “Whilst this ruling does not affect other Court cases, it is indicative that some County Court judges are really getting to grips with the implications of Regulation EC261/2004. Whilst the wording of the Regulation is not clear on specific examples such as this, the principles are fairly clear but don’t always appear to be followed in County Courts. We’re very happy that in this case the judge ruled in favour of passenger rights and awarded compensation, but we’d be much happier if more Courts ruled in favour of passenger rights. It would be particularly heartening to see a ruling on this issue in a higher Court, so that judges in County Courts were bound to follow suit. That would pave the way for thousands of other passengers to get compensation for the inconvenience they have suffered”

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Big thanks for the £304.70 transferred to my bank account today. My claim related to a three-leg flight from Norwich UK to Phoenix USA via Schiphol. The CAA suggested I had a good case but could do nothing because the delay occurred within Dutch jurisdiction. I twice did battle with KLM/Delta myself but they would not budge. Another claims firm tried but threw in the towel. So congratulations to Claim4Flights for taking it on and winning – and for getting the money transferred into my bank account within two days of notification. Very impressed!

Delta Airlines Flight – Andy, Norfolk from Delta Airlines £304.70 won 11th April 2017
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