The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is clarifying its advice to passengers on their rights to compensation for delayed and cancelled flights, following the ruling in the Jet2 v Huzar case at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 11 June.
The Court of Appeal ruled that ordinary technical problems that cause flight disruption, such as component failure and general wear and tear, should not be considered “extraordinary circumstances”. This means that airlines can only cite technical faults as a reason for not paying compensation if the fault was originally caused by an event that was “out of the ordinary”. So technical faults such as a part on the aircraft failing before departure will generally not be considered extraordinary circumstances.
The effect of the judgement is:
• New claims should be assessed by airlines in the light of the judgement.
• Claims previously put to an airline can be reconsidered in the light of the judgement, if the passenger wishes, unless the passenger agreed a settlement with the airline.
• Claims that have already been decided by a court cannot be taken back to court unless they are within the time limit for an appeal.
There may also be further developments on the issue, with Jet2 confirming it intends to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Airlines might delay processing claims until the outcome is known. Passengers therefore have a choice: either to ask and wait for their airline to reconsider their claim in the light of the judgement, or to take their claim to court.
The CAA apologises that our earlier advice was not clear. We will contact passengers who have previously sought our help to provide advice on the matter. The CAA will also provide guidance on the judgment to airlines.
For more information please contact the CAA press office on 020 7453 6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the CAA on Twitter @UK_CAA.
Notes to editors:
• Under European regulations, passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight is cancelled or delayed by more than three hours on arrival – providing the disruption was not caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.
• The Jet2 v Huzar case related to when technical faults that cause long delays to flights should be considered “extraordinary circumstances”. The court found that technical faults are inherent to the normal activity of an airline, unless caused by extraneous acts of third parties. This means that most technical faults will no longer be considered as extraordinary circumstances.
• Passengers wishing to take a claim to court can use the small claims court.
• The judgement does not affect the limitation period affecting any claim; claims can be taken to court relating to cancellation/delay events up to six years ago.
• The CAA is not an ombudsman and does not have the power to force airlines to pay individual passengers’ claims. However, the CAA can take legal action where there is evidence of systematic non-compliance with the regulation by an airline.
• The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.