The retired lawyer, who has many years’ experience of working with complicated legal documents thought his case against Monarch Airlines would be straight-forward, however he soon found just how complicated the procedure was.
He was due to fly from Málaga to London Gatwick on 22nd September 2012 following the end of his late summer break. When he arrived at Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, he was told that his flight was delayed for between seven and eight hours.
Mr Rogers said “no reason was given for the delay. Even the handling agents, Iberia didn’t know the reason; instead they said that it was a “fairly regular occurrence”.
When he returned off his holiday, Mr Rogers wrote to Monarch airlines to request compensation under EU261 which forces airlines to pay compensation to passengers if their flight has been delayed for more than three hours, flight cancelled or if the passenger has been denied boarding. However the airline does not have to pay compensation if they can prove that the reason for the delay was ‘extraordinary’ and out of their control.
After seeking advice from Bott and Co who confirmed his delay was not an extraordinary circumstance, he sent off an application for judgement.
Despite writing a letter to the airline in October 2012, they still had not responded by February 2013. Initially when Mr Rogers spoke to Monarch he was informed that the airline would investigate. Mr Rogers said: “Nothing seemed to happen. So in February I issued a claim in the small claims court against Monarch airlines.
On 15th February they sent an explanation saying there was a technical problem with the aircraft and that it came under the extraordinary circumstances rule.
After seeking advice from Bott and Co who confirmed the technical problems which meant his flight was delayed was not an extraordinary circumstance, he sent off an application for judgement which led to Monarch lodging a defence on the last day.
Despite the District Judge (DJ) asking for all papers to be served – 14 days prior to the hearing which was on July 11th 2013, nothing was acknowledged by Monarch until 9th July at 4.59pm.
At the hearing in Colchester, the barrister acting on behalf of Monarch appeared “unprepared” and without the necessary documents that His Honour had requested. As such the DJ adjourned the case and personally went to look for the Monarch’s documents.
Mr Rogers was left bemused at Monarch, whilst the DJ “went through the roof”. It came to light that the barrister was only briefed the night before and therefore was unprepared. The DJ gave judgement in favour of Mr Rogers and awarded him £693 for the judgement, £122.52 interest and £359 costs.
Despite winning his case against Monarch Airlines, Mr Rogers said:
“I have another two claims, which I have lodged with Bott and Co. At the end of the day, given that the return is not massive, it is better going through the law firm. I know what I am doing – although the bundles and the skeleton answer was a little over the top for a small claims court.
“The defence is coached in fairly technical language which you have to go and research. My rule of thumb when dealing with a personal injury case is that you spend between 20 and 30 hours on it, and I don’t think I spent much less than 20 hours on this flight compensation case against Monarch.
“Unless you have the inclination and skills to lodge the claim yourself then you’re far better with a firm like Bott and Co.”