Taking your Complaint to Court

Guidance on how you might proceed if you intend taking your case to court.

If you have raised your issue with the airline and you have not been able to reach an agreement, you can contact the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team. If we take up your complaint, but cannot help you reach an agreement with the airline, you could consider whether you wish to take the case to a local County Court. 

You will be able to get guidance on making small claims from your local Citizens' Advice Bureau or the Court Service or through European Small Claims Procedure

Regulations EC 261/2004 and Civil Aviation Denied Boarding Compensation and Assistance Regulations 2005 – private rights of redress

It is the CAA’s view that consumers have the right to pursue claims through the court system for breaches of duties under the Denied Boarding Regulations.  This was also made clear by the government when it brought in UK laws to give effect to the EC Denied Boarding Regulations. The explanatory memorandum to the implementing Regulations ( a kind of background note)  prepared by the Department for Transport set this out as follows:

“ Broadly speaking, enforcement of the rights granted to passengers under the Council Regulation in the UK will be a two stage process. In the first instance, an aggrieved passenger will be able to complain to the AUC. [now the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team.] The AUC will try to facilitate a resolution to the complaint through mediation between the passenger and the air carrier. Where this is not successful, the passenger will be encouraged to seek appropriate damages through the Small Claims Court by applying the directly enforceable rights created under the Regulation. “ (Our emphasis).

This reflects the wording of the EC Denied Boarding Regulation itself and in particular Recital 22 which states expressly that, whilst Member States are required to ‘ensure and supervise general compliance by their air carriers with this Regulation … supervision should not affect the rights of passengers and air carriers to seek legal redress from Courts under procedures of national law.’

We would be interested to hear from consumers or their legal representatives if they have taken cases to court where the defendants (the person or company being sued for compensation)  have raised the argument that individuals do not have the right to seek redress under the Denied Boarding Regulations and what was the result for their case.