Today, 19th June, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the Dawson V Thomson Airways case, opening up an additional four years’ worth of claimable flights
Lord Justices Moore-Bick, Kitchin and Fulford dismissed the airline’s appeal and found in favour of Mr Dawson, ruling that consumers have six years from the date their flight landed to bring a flight delay claim in England and Wales under EU regulation 261/2004, in accordance with Section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980.
In this article we look at what this judgment means for consumers who have experienced a flight delay or cancellation in the past six years.
What if I don’t have my paperwork?
EU261 applies to any passenger with a confirmed reservation on an eligible flight as long as they paid a fare available directly to the public and presented for boarding on time.
It certainly helps if you have your paperwork as this helps us confirm your reservation. Useful paperwork could be anything from an email confirmation or electronic boarding pass to a letter from the airline confirming your delay.
If you don’t have your paperwork, all is not lost. In some cases the airline will confirm you were on the flight, whereas others will ask you to prove you were. As a last resort airlines should be able to confirm you were booked to fly on a specific flight because they will have the flight manifest.
What if I started my claim less than 6 years ago but it’s now more than 6 years ago?
The six year ruling of the Dawson V Thomson case relates to when you can enforce your rights through the court.
As long as you have issued court proceedings within six years you have a valid claim.
If you presented your claim to the airline within six years but you did not issue proceedings (merely presented your complaint to the airline) and the six years have now expired, unfortunately you cannot claim.
What if I have previously had my claim rejected by the airline for being more than 2 years old?
Write to the airline again, referring them to the Dawson V Thomson Airways ruling and inviting them to pay the compensation due to you under the terms of Regulation EU261/2004.
If you still encounter difficulties you can instruct a “No-Win, No-Fee” solicitor to take on your case. Use Bott and Co’s flight delay claim calculator to start the process.
What if I have previously had my claim rejected by the Small Claims Court for being more than 2 years old?
If you claim was heard within the last 21 days, you can appeal the decision. If judgment was handed down more than 21 days ago, even if the judgment was wrong in light of the Dawson decision, unfortunately you are unlikely to get leave to appeal.
Will this put up ticket prices?
In May 2014 the European Commission published a report titled ‘Complaint handling and enforcement by Member States of the Air Passenger Rights Regulations’. It found that if all passengers who were entitled to claim under EU261 did so, it would correspond “approximately to between €1 and €3 per one-way ticket.”
The report goes on to say “the EU rules on passenger rights represent an average cost of between 0.6% and 1.8% of the airlines’ turnover (depending on the proportion of entitled passengers that claim compensation).”
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co said: “We are keen to provide passengers with clear and factual information based on current, relevant case law and independent reports.
“Given the comparatively small number of flights that are eligible for EU261, as per the European Commission report findings, even if every eligible passenger claimed, it would only add a few pounds to ticket prices. We think that is a small price to pay for peace of mind should your flight be delayed by more than three hours.”