Thomson ruling opens door for thousands of claims from airline passengers

Thousands of holidaymakers could be set to make claims against airlines, following a ruling in the Court of Appeal this morning

The decision was announced today in the Court of Appeal, following a case in the Royal Courts of Justice between Thomson Airways and a passenger James Dawson.

The case centred on the question of the time limit applicable to a claim for compensation under article 7 of Regulation 261 for a delayed flight.

The package holiday giant argued that according to English law the time limit is two years, however Dawson suggested it should be six years.

Thomson was basing its argument on the case of Sidhu vs British Airways in 1997, when the Supreme Court ruled that all claims arising out of carriage of persons should be subject to the two-year time limit imposed by the Montreal Convention.

There are currently two separate laws relating to flight delay compensation that are recognised by both the English courts and the European Union – EU261, and the Montreal Convention.

EU261 sets out fixed levels of compensation for flight delays of up to €600 for delays longer than three hours. Meanwhile the Montreal Convention has provision for “damages” paid out in the event of delays.

The decision could affect thousands of airline passengers, particularly in light of last week’s ruling against Jet2.com, which suggested that airlines could be forced to pay out millions to customers for mechanical delays.

Jet2.com has insisted that it will appeal the decision, however lawyers have warned that if the ruling remains, it could open the floodgates for passengers claiming on their delayed or cancelled flights as at the moment airlines can avoid paying compensation if they can prove faults were because of “extraordinary circumstances

“We welcome the decision of the Court today to reject the appeal made by Thomson Airways and to uphold the decision of Cambridge County Court in favour of our client, Mr Dawson.

The Court has again confirmed that a passenger has 6 years in which to claim and that Thomson Airways have therefore been wrong to refuse to compensate those passengers over the years. This means legal action can be brought against airlines refusing to pay compensation to the passengers they’ve inconvenienced through long delays.

Once again we see this as a major victory for air passenger rights. The concern was that had the decision gone against Mr Dawson then millions of passengers would be unable to recover their rightful compensation from airlines for delayed flights more than two years old.

We’ve now won two back to back cases at the Court of Appeal that will help people when they claim themselves and the airlines should have no more excuses to ignore their obligations under EU261.

It’s important to make clear that both the recent Dawson and Huzar decisions should not affect ticket prices. The European Commission say that even if 100% of passengers eligible to claim under EU261 were paid, it is the equivalent of a maximum €3 on the cost of a ticket. However, the airlines should be looking to improve punctuality, in order to avoid having to pass on costs in the first place.

We would have hoped that the Civil Aviation Authority had done more to clarify the rights for passengers but we’ve taken on the fight and millions of travellers will now benefit as a result.

We would urge anyone who has been refused compensation by the airline because their claim was more than two years old to write to them again based on today’s decision.

Sourced from TTG Digital

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