We look into the case and its significance below.
What Was The Huzar V Jet2 Case About?
The Huzar V Jet2 case decided whether airlines must pay compensation for delays caused by technical problems.
Flight compensation law, EU Regulation 261/2004 says that airlines must pay compensation for long delays, and cancelled flights except where this is due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’. Huzar V Jet2 looked at whether a technical problem is an extraordinary circumstance.
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What Happened To Mr Huzar And Why Did He Claim?
Ron Huzar, his wife and granddaughter had enjoyed a half-term holiday in Spain, however things turned sour when it came to returning home. Ron and his family were due to fly from Malaga to Manchester at 18:25 on October 26th 2011 on Jet2 flight LS810. However a technical problem with the aircraft meant he and fellow passengers were delayed by a huge 27 hours.
On the inbound flight to Malaga the plane’s left engine fuel advisory light came on indicating a possible defect in the fuel shut-off valve. After the plane landed, Jet2 arranged for a spare valve to be fitted but the problem remained and the engineer couldn’t fix the problem before Malaga airport shut for the evening.
The following day engineers discovered a wiring defect in the fuel valve circuit which required replacing. As a result Jet2 sent a specialist engineer and spare wiring from their hangar at Leeds Bradford airport. In the meantime Jet2 decided to bring another aircraft from Glasgow to take passengers from Malaga to Manchester.
Mr Huzar’s Legal Journey
On returning home, Ron Huzar wrote to Jet2 asking for €400 compensation each for him, his wife and his granddaughter as per their legal rights under Regulation EU 261/2004.
The airline wrote back to let him know they were turning down his claim. They said Mr Huzar’s delay was due to a technical problem which they believed was an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ so they did not have to pay compensation.
Mr Huzar wrote to AESA (the Spanish National Aviation Enforcement Body) asking them for their opinion on whether he was eligible for flight compensation. They ruled that yes, he was. AESA said his flight was claimable but Jet2 still refused compensation.
Mr Huzar was determined to fight this so started court proceedings himself and his case was listed for a hearing on 10th June 2013 at Stockport County Court.
Ron Huzar represented himself in court but Jet2 instructed Bird and Bird Solicitors, a large London firm to act on their behalf. They filed a defence, once again repeating their argument that because Mr Huzar’s delay was caused by a wiring defect it was considered an extraordinary circumstance and no compensation was due.
The Judge found in the airline’s favour and dismissed Mr Huzar’s claim. It was at this point that Mr Huzar approached Bott and Co.
The Judge found in the airline’s favour and dismissed Mr Huzar’s claim. It was at this point that Mr Huzar approached Bott and Co. Our specialist flight compensation lawyers took over his case and appealed the decision.
Bott and Co filed an appeal on the grounds that there had been a mistake in the Application of the Law and undue prejudice to Mr Huzar. We were given permission to appeal and the case was listed to be heard at Manchester County Court on 8th October 2013.
Our appeal was based on the case of Friederike Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane SpA. In this case they said that an extraordinary circumstances was something “Not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and is beyond the actual control of that carrier on account of its nature or origin.”
This case allowed us to argue that to be considered an extraordinary circumstance the cause of the delay must not be inherent and it must be beyond the airline’s control. If the cause of delay does not meet both of those criteria then the airline must pay compensation.
The airline decided to appeal this decision further, this time at the Court of Appeal in London. The case was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on 22nd May 2014. You can download a full summary of the Court of Appeal hearing for Huzar V Jet2.com.
The three Judges upheld the previous decision in Mr Huzar’s favour and denied the airline’s appeal.
But Jet2 were not ready to give up yet and applied to appeal at the Supreme Court. Bott and Co opposed the airline’s request to appeal on behalf of Mr Huzar – after all it would have been an appeal of an appeal of an appeal! After considering written submissions from both sides, the Supreme Court told Jet2 they could not appeal again.
After considering written submissions from both sides, the Supreme Court told Jet2 they could not appeal again.
This was the end of the road for the airline in this matter. They had exhausted all of their legal options. Mr Huzar’s judgment from Manchester County Court still stood as good law: Technical problems are not an extraordinary circumstance when it comes to flight compensation claims.
Why Does Huzar V Jet2 Affect My Flight Compensation Claim?
Huzar V Jet2 was a test case, meaning that the decision in this case is binding and all other claims made under EU flight delay law in England and Wales have to follow this decision.
Can I Claim Flight Compensation For A Delay Caused By Technical Problems?
Yes, you can claim flight delay compensation or flight cancellation compensation where the delay/cancellation was caused by a technical problem. The Huzar V Jet2 judgment makes it clear that technical problems are not considered an extraordinary circumstance under EU261 rules, so airlines still have to pay flight compensation in these cases.
The Huzar V Jet2 judgment makes it clear that technical problems are not considered an extraordinary circumstance under EU261.
Our free flight flight delay compensation checker will give you an instant decision on whether you have a valid flight compensation claim and you can even download our free flight delay compensation letter to send to the airline to register your complaint yourself.
Why Was The Huzar V Jet2 Case So Important?
Thanks to the Huzar case there is now clarity over what is and isn’t considered an extraordinary circumstance when it comes to flight delay compensation. This case has made flight compensation rules a lot easier to understand: A delay caused by a technical problem does qualify for flight compensation. It’s now very clear when airlines should and shouldn’t be paying up.
Now we have Huzar we can enforce people’s rights that bit quicker and hold the airlines to account.
As a binding case in this area of law, all future flight claims in England and Wales made under EU flight delay law will have to follow the judgment made in Huzar V Jet2.
It’s estimated 1.5% of all flights in/out of the UK each year could qualify for flight compensation because they are delayed over three hours or cancelled and around 80% of these delays are caused by technical problems. We calculate this decision will benefit around 2.36million passengers per year.
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Flight Delay Solicitor at Bott and Co Coby Benson said:
“Now we have Huzar we can enforce people’s rights that bit quicker and hold the airlines to account.
“Whereas before we were sometimes going before judges who hadn’t heard of this Regulation, we now have this powerful, well publicised judgment which the judiciary have to follow and which means compensation should follow.
“This judgment means that if the airlines don’t pay on technical defect cases then the court should order them to do so, so the airlines have to decide whether they want to incur additional costs fighting a case they will not win.”
When Can I Make A Delayed Flight Claim?
If you have been delayed on a flight you may be thinking “Do I have a flight compensation claim?” or you may have a cancelled flight compensation claim, so let’s look at flight compensation law in more detail.
Your right to flight compensation is covered by EU Regulation 261/2004. It entitles passengers to claim compensation if their flight is cancelled, delayed, rerouted, denied boarding, or they miss a connection. You can claim if you reach your final destination more than three hours after your scheduled arrival time. To claim you must be taking off/landing at an EU airport, or be travelling with an EU airline.
There are some exceptions to these rules: An airline does not have to pay compensation if the disruption to your travel plans is caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’. But what is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’? Airlines do not have to pay for delays/cancellations caused by things such as terrorism, severe weather conditions, manufacturing defects or industrial strike action.
Example of Claims
It’s important to note that the extraordinary circumstance must relate directly to the plane on which you were due to travel. Let’s use the following scenario as an example: A plane is scheduled to take passenger ‘A’ from Manchester to Madrid and then fly passenger ‘B’ from Madrid to Berlin. Passenger ‘A’ arrived five hours late in Madrid due to extreme weather in Manchester and Passenger ‘B’ was five hours late in taking off from Madrid to Berlin, where neither location had severe weather.
Passenger ‘A’ would not be entitled to claim flight compensation because their delay was due to an extraordinary circumstance. Passenger ‘B’ would be able to claim flight compensation because it was not their fault the inbound plane was delayed; the airline could have chosen a different plane to fly them to their destination.
How Much Compensation Can I Get For A Flight Delay, Flight Cancellation Or Denied Boarding?
Passengers that want to claim for a delayed flight or have a cancelled flight compensation claim are entitled to between £220 and £520 flight compensation each.
The exact amount of compensation is fixed and is calculated according to how long your delay was and how far your flight was. How much you paid for your ticket does not affect the amount of compensation you can claim. This is because the law is there to compensate passengers for the time they lose and the inconvenience of a flight delay, not the price of their airfare.
If you think you may have a flight delay claim, you can use our free flight delay checker to find out if you have a valid case.
Timeline of events
26/10/2011 Ron Huzar is delayed on his flight to Manchester
20/12/2012 – Ron Huzar makes a claim against the airline
10/6/2013 – Ron Huzar loses his claim
17/06/2013 – Ron Huzar contacts Bott and Co to act for him
27/6/2013 – Bott and Co make application for permission to appeal
8/10/2013 – Appeal hearing
24/10/2013 – The judgment is handed down
11/11/2013 – The airline appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal
14/3/2014 – CAA apply to intervene in support of airline
23/4/2014 – CAA application refused
22/05/2014 – The appeal case is heard
11/06/2014 – Appeal judgment handed down
11/06/2014 – Ron Huzar receives his compensation
08/07/2014 – Airline request permission to appeal
31/10/2014 – Supreme Court refuse permission to appeal
A member of The Law Society, Coby helped establish the flight delay compensation sector in the UK.
His work has been recognised throughout the industry, winning numerous awards, including The Manchester Law Society Associate of the Year. Coby has been a key speaker on Flight Compensation, appearing on Sky News, BBC Radio and national newspapers as a flight delay expert.
*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.