The Supreme Court has opened the way to a wave of claims against airlines by refusing applications to appeal in two landmark flight delay compensation cases. 

In an order published today, the court denied and Thomson Airways Limited leave to appeal in Limited v Huzar and Thomson Airways Limited v Dawson

Lawyers representing passengers who have suffered flight delays welcomed the ruling. The Gazette understands that thousands of potential claims had been put on ice pending the Supreme Court’s decision. 

A court statement said that a panel of three Supreme Court justices had ordered that permission to appeal be refused in Thomson ‘because the application does not raise an arguable point of law’ and in ‘because the application does not raise a point of law of general public importance and, in relation to the point of European Union law said to be raised by or in response to the application, it is not necessary to request the Court of Justice to give any ruling, because the court’s existing jurisprudence already provides sufficient answer’.

The legal issues at stake were whether an unforeseeable technical problem resulting in a delayed flight amounts to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ for the purposes of Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 and whether the applicable limitation period for bringing a claim for compensation under the regulation is two or six years.

Personal injury firm Bott & Co, which represented the claimant in the case, said that an estimated 2.36 million passengers per year in England and Wales are set to benefit from the decision, while the Thomson case opens up an estimated £3.89bn in historic flight compensation.  

David Bott, senior partner, said: ‘The Supreme Court’s decision has provided total clarity in the law, which will benefit both airlines and passengers going forward. Bott & Co has thousands of clients whose claims have been on hold pending today’s decisions. 

‘We will now be writing to the airlines, asking them to acknowledge the judgments, recognise their obligations and deal with these claims as promptly as possible.’