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Historic ruling on EU flight delays

Court of Appeal rejects airlines’ bid for further appeal on compensation pay-outs – opening way to billions of damages

AIRLINE passengers who have been refused compensation for flight delays may still win their claim as the UK Supreme Court has rejected appeals by Jet2 and Thomson in a move that could lead to pay-outs worth billions.

The Law Society Gazette says the Court of Appeal has today rejected the airlines’ pleas to be allowed further appeals in landmark cases known as Huzar v Jet2 and Dawson v Thomson.

Many thousands of passengers can now make fresh compensation claims against them and other airlines. However, airlines have previously warned that these pay-outs will inevitably lead to higher fares.

The Huzar ruling says technical problems are not considered an “extraordinary circumstance” under the European regulation EU261 through which a flight delay compensation claim should be refused.

Lawyer David Bott, for personal injury and compensation specialists Bott & Co, which acted for the claimant in Huzar v Jet2, said 2.36million people in England and Wales alone could now win compensation claims amounting to £876m.

In the Dawson v Thomson case, the airline had set a two-year time limit on compensation claims but the judges rejected this and said passengers could claim for up to six years. This could see an estimated £3.89bn in claims.

Mr Bott told the Law Society Gazette: "This is a landmark day not just for Mr Huzar and Mr Dawson but for passengers everywhere. Two journeys which started with a delay have now finished, nearly eight years later in Mr Dawson's case.

"Bott & Co has thousands of clients whose claims have been on hold pending today's decisions. We will now be writing to the airlines, asking them to acknowledge the judgments, recognise their obligations and deal with these claims as promptly as possible.

“If you've previously submitted a claim to the airline but have been turned down on the grounds of a technical defect or because your claim is more than two years old, we recommend you resubmit your claim. The Supreme Court's decision has provided total clarity in the law.

* The EC261 regulation applies to all flights through EU airports, plus those operated by EU companies through airports outside Europe. In essence, in the event of a delay or cancellation the company must provide food and, if needed, accommodation until the flight takes off. Their obligation starts after a two-hour delay on a flight of up to 1,500km, three hours on trips of 1,500 to 3,500km (eg Edinburgh-Nice) and four hours on longer trips. Compensation may be paid at €250, €400 and €600 for these delays.

For more information, read our previous article here
Photo: Lyon Airport

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