The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that airline passengers can claim compensation for delays caused by technical faults.
In October 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that consumers had six years to claim compensation for delays and upheld the ruling that technical difficulties are not ‘extraordinary circumstances’ for the purposes of a compensation claim. The Dutch airline KLM had tried to argue that spontaneous technical issues are ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and many cases have been on hold whilst the case was appealed at the ECJ.
The ruling demonstrates how poor the existing Regulations are: so many EU claim cases have had to go to court, to the Supreme Court in the UK and now the European Court of Justice. Well-written Regulations should shape the minimum standards and compensation rules but they have not been clear enough which has led to confusion and legal cases. Reform of the Regulations is underway in Brussels, but progress has stalled due to disagreements between member states.
An increase in the already large number of compensation claims is now inevitable.
Helen Dewdney consumer campaigner and author of ‘How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!’ whilst welcoming another win for consumers says that, in her opinion, compensation should not be a set amount for each claim, it should be a percentage of the ticket price. She says:
“In some cases the compensation will be higher than the price of the ticket which is ridiculous and will result in only one thing, an increase in prices.” She also warns of the increase in number of no-win no-fee organisations claiming on behalf of people who have been delayed. “There is nothing that an organisation or lawyer can do regarding delayed or denied boarding that a consumer cannot do themselves and get 100% of the compensation figure (which varies on length of flight and delay).”