Delayed holidaymakers rejoice!

As those of you who know me are probably aware I spend a reasonable amount of my working day suing on behalf of beleagured holidaymakers abd whilst I’d like to put down the several thousand words I could on various peculiarities of litigation inolving foreign elements I thought I’d start with a nice light hearted one.

The good news in Jet2.com v Huzar [2014] EWCA Civ 791 is that when a plane is delayed technical operations issues – even when unforeseen – do not amount to a defence to the claims for statutory compensaiton decreed by Europe.  Small comfort for a holidaymaker delayed by the 27 hours Mr Huzar was but England (unless the Supreme Court disagrees) is happy with a simple and clear system for compensation for flight delays.

The case of Sturgeon v Condor & Bock v Air France (conjoined cases C-402/07 & C-432/07) extended the right to compensation found in EC Regulation 261/2004 to those passengers whose flight is delayed by at least 3 hours.

Jet2.com took the view that the defence of extraordinary circumstances found in Article 5 of the Regulation applied where a fault arose during normal operation. The Court of Appeal disagreed significantly finding that faults arose out of normal operation and it is within the airlines’ business to be ready and able to deal with these.

There is a remaining small avenue for an airline to rely upon this basis in relation to airtcarft faults – but only where the facts giving rise to the problem are themselves extraordinary. In particular those examples in the recitals to the Regulation – third party acts (such as war, terrorism, air traffic control decisions – but not subcontractors) or freak weather remain open to an airline.