Court of Appeal rules against second airline on flight delays

Topics: Energy, utilities and transport,Personal injury & clinical negligence,Courts business

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  • David Bott

The aviation industry has suffered another court defeat after an appeal judge ruled claims can be made up to six years after a flight delay.

The Court of Appeal yesterday handed down its judgment in Dawson v Thomson Airways, rejecting the airline’s appeal against the award of compensation to a passenger.

The claimant had been delayed by six hours on a flight from Gatwick to the Dominican Republic and claimed £480. He started his claim just before the six-year limitation period, established under section nine of the Limitation Act 1980, had expired. The airline accepted it would have been liable to make the payment if he had brought proceedings in time.

Thomson argued that the Montreal Convention had established a two-year time limit for bringing proceedings. But Lord Justice Moor-Bick said the time limit, according to the European Court, should be determined in accordance with the rules of each individual country, with regulation in this case falling outside the convention.

The decision represented a second High Court win in a week for north-west firm Bott & Co, which represented Dawson. Last week the firm won a case where the court ruled there were no exceptional circumstances to justify a passenger’s 27-hour delay. The airline, Jet2, plans to take the case to the Supreme Court.

David Bott, senior partner at Bott & Co (pictured) said: ‘This has been a great week for air passengers’ rights and we are delighted to have been involved in two huge victories for consumers. It has been superb to take these two issues to the Court of Appeal and clarify regulations that fundamentally affect hundreds of thousands of people on a yearly basis.’

Bott hailed the firm’s move into flight delay claims – made as a direct consequence on the restrictions and income cuts affecting the personal injury sector – had been successful so far, with attention now focused on further expansion of practice areas.

‘In the face of huge changes in the personal injury space we decided some time ago that Bott and Company had to diversify,’ he added.  ‘We chose a niche which complemented our IT skills and fitted in with our passion for claimant and consumer rights. We hope that this consumer niche will be the first of many that we expand into.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • Thanks for raising the cost of my airfares to Europe, Mr Bott. The other day I asked the local motorboat man if he would take me around to Conwy at the end of the day. "Sorry, David, my insurance doesn't cover that". When I was a lad I used to steer those boats, there were half a dozen of them in the bay here, there were queues for a ride around to the lighthouse and no question of any insurance arose, and no one cared if they arrived back late.

    Now there is just one such boat. There are no queues. Health and Safety, consumer protection and claims lawyers have between them done for the motorboat trade here in Llandudno. One can see parallels with the Law Society.

    Thank you, Mr Bott, but no thank you. I for one do not welcome this decision. We are becoming a race which believes that every inconvenience should be rewarded with compo. Soon we shall be like USA where surgeons cannot afford to practise in some states simply because they cannot afford the insurance premiums.

    And the losers are the very consumers these measures are introduced to protect as the services are no longer there.

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  • The Warsaw Convention and The Montreal Convention always seemed clear enough to me and stipulated a two year limitation period. We now have the European Court and the Court of Appeal confusing the issue and imposing different limitation periods depending on the type of claim. More Judicial madness and I hope Lord Justice Moore-Bick enjoys the increased air fares which will follow.

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  • So now Mr Bott you must be rubbing your hands. The French air traffic controllers are on strike and loads of Ryanair, easy jet and BA flights have been cancelled. Set up an office in any airport and you and your grasping clients who cannot stand five minutes' delay can rake it in.

    Just don't be surprised if this spells the end of cheap air fares for millions. You'll be all right, Jack, you'll be able to afford to travel first class while the rest of us pay through the nose.

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  • Out the wrong side of the bed again DC - You don't suppose the real reason why the local motorboat trade has gone downhill is because there are just not the visitors there used to be because they are all on cheap flights to the continent for their hols. Stop cheap flights and perhaps a few more motor boats might be able to ply their trade - a silver lining in everything ;-)

    Seriously though - what the ruling seems to suggest is that people who are majorly inconvenienced should be compensated and inevitably this will mean a few extra pounds paid by everyone - providing a sort of, what's the word I'm looking for - lets call it insurance - where everyone pays in and the risk is spread between everyone - its a novel principle but it might just catch on.

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