Victory for millions of consumers, after Judge rules that Ryanair can not limit how long passengers have to claim flight delay compensation
- Ryanair loses in test case of Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair – a ruling that stands to affect millions of passengers
- Airline has been attempting to reduce the amount of time passengers have to claim flight delay compensation through a clause in its Terms and Conditions
- In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that passengers in England and Wales have SIX years to take a flight delay claim to court – Ryanair has been telling some passengers they only have TWO years
- If Ryanair had won, all airlines might have been able to put a two year time bar on all existing and future claims
- Bott and Co Solicitors, who acted on behalf of Goel & Trivedi say: “We’re delighted that the court has dismissed yet another argument put forward by the airlines to restrict passenger rights.”
A Senior Judge at Manchester County Court today ruled in favour of consumers in the flight delay test case Goel and Trivedi v Ryanair – a decision which stands to benefit millions of passengers.
His Honour Judge Platts ruled that Ryanair cannot dictate how long passengers have to claim flight delay compensation through a clause in its small print.
Ryanair has been arguing that by accepting the airline’s Terms and Conditions when they buy a ticket, passengers agree that they only have two years to take a claim to court, despite the Supreme Court saying they have SIX years.
But Article 15 of Flight Delay Regulation EC 261/2004 states that airlines “cannot limit or restrict the rights contained in the Regulations.”
His Honour Judge Platts upheld Article 15 saying of the airline’s two year Terms and Conditions argument
“On any view that must amount to a restriction or limit on the airline’s obligation to pay and thus fall foul of Article 15.1”
As Goel and Trivedi v Ryanair is a test case, it is likely that all other flight compensation claims in England and Wales across will now follow the decision. As such, the ruling stands to benefit approximately 2.26million Ryanair passengers (around £610million in compensation).
Flight delay Regulation EC 261/2004 entitles passengers to claim flight compensation of up to €600 per person for delays of three hours or more, as long as the delay was not caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
The law states that airlines must apply the limitation period (how long a passenger has to take the claim to court) of the country where the claim is lodged. The Supreme Court ruling in Dawson v Thomson Airways clarified that passengers in England and Wales have SIX years to take a claim to court in October 2014.
In today’s ruling Judge Platts suggested that Ryanair did not have this latest legal argument in mind when the Terms and Conditions were drawn up.
Judge Platts said that Ryanair’s complicated legal argument:
…requires a somewhat ingenious legal analysis which I doubt was in the mind of the parties when the contract was made.
Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair was taken to court by Bott and Co Solicitors on 30th January 2014 – five years and eight months after the delay itself.
The airline originally stayed (put on hold) the Goel & Trivedi case pending the outcome of the test cases Huzar v Jet2 and Dawson v Thomson Airways in 2014. But when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of delayed passengers in both cases, Ryanair changed its argument to focus on its Terms and Conditions to defend the claim.
Although no other airlines are currently running the two year limitation argument, the majority have a similar clause in their Terms and Conditions stating that passengers only have two years to issue court proceedings.
If Ryanair had won the case, this could have led to all other airlines following suit and successfully putting a two year cap on claims. If that had happened, claims between two and six years where court proceedings have not yet been issued could have potentially been time barred.
Bott and Co Flight Delay Lawyer Coby Benson, who acted on behalf of Goel & Trivedi said:
“We’re delighted that the court has dismissed yet another argument put forward by the airlines to restrict passenger rights.
“The last twelve months have seen a series of landmark judgments obtained by Bott and Co on behalf of millions of passengers and this is as important as any of those that precede it.
“The Supreme Court decision last year said passengers have six years to bring a claim. That is a definitive, binding, clear judgment from the highest court in England and Wales.
“This should have concluded matters but unfortunately Ryanair have been able to tweak the argument; we found ourselves running a complicated court case arguing the fine points of contract law.
“We fully expect the airlines to continue to fight these cases but we are prepared to hold them to account in each and every instance where the law says compensation is payable, and with the courts continuing to find on behalf of consumers we’ve real cause to be optimistic that passengers will receive the compensation they are entitled to.”
Earlier this year, Ryanair told the Civil Aviation Authority that they do not try to limit the amount of time a passenger has to claim through their Terms and Conditions. The CAA then went on to issue a statement saying “Ryanair is not applying a two-year limit on claims”, and published this information in their report ‘Financial compensation, technical faults and time limitations: Compliance report’.
The CAA issued a penalty against Jet2 and Wizz Air for applying a two year time limit on claims earlier this year, but did not do the same for Ryanair at that time.
** According to a report published by the European Commission in May 2014, if airlines increased ticket prices to cover their compensation costs (including providing food, free accommodation etc. to passengers where necessary), this would only be equal to an increase of between €1 and €3 per one-way ticket (approximately 73p to £2.19)**
Notes To Editor
Goel & Trivedi’s delay was 9 hours and 50 minutes long, on a flight from Reus (Spain) to Stansted on 6th March 2008.
Bott and Co and flight delay compensation
To date (21/08/2015), Bott and Co has recovered over €11.5million flight delay compensation for more than 27,000 passengers, since the department launched in 2013.
Bott and Co took the landmark case of Dawson v Thomson Airways to the Supreme Court and won in The ruling meant that passengers in England and Wales have six years to take a flight delay claim to court. The decision unlocked £3.89billion in compensation. Find out more here.
Bott and Co took the landmark case of Huzar v Jet2 to the Supreme Court and won in 2014. The ruling meant that airlines can no longer claim that ‘technical issues’ are extraordinary circumstances. The decision unlocked £750million in compensation. Find out more here.
Bott and Co are a law firm and NOT a claims management company. In that respect we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and can issue court proceedings, where claims management companies cannot.