High Court rules in favour of passengers with disrupted journeys outside of the EU

Today the High Court has handed down in Judgment in the case of Varano v Air Canada, QB-2020-001410

Hayward Baker was the instructing solicitors for the passenger with Harry Gillow from Monckton Chambers as the barrister assigned to represent the Claimant at the High Court.

The case involved a passenger, Ms Varano, who was flying with Air Canada on two legs. The first leg was from London to Toronto. The second let was from Toronto to Austin, Texas in the United States. There were no issues with the first flight however the second leg was delayed by nearly 6 hours.

Under EU Regulation 261/2004 – which has formally been adopted into domestic law post brexit – the passenger was entitled to 600 euros in compensation for her delayed flight. The law was brought in to ensure a “high” level of consumer protection for passengers and has been enforce for nearly two decades.

Air Canada refused to make payment and proceedings were commenced in the small claims court. The airline defended the proceedings and sought that the claim be transferred to the High Court due to its complexity. Air Canada sought to argue that as the disrupted flight in question was outside of the jurisdiction of the EU then the Regulation did not apply in the first place.

At the High Court Geraint Webb QC rejected the Defence and awarded compensation be paid for the Claimant for £520.00.

In his decision, which is now binding thanks to the instance of Air Canada that it be heard in the High Court, Geraint Webb QC held that:

“The correct analysis of the relevant CJEU case law, following Gahan at [76], is that Regulation 261 imposed a contingent liability on Air Canada when it operated the flight from Heathrow, namely a liability to pay compensation to Ms Varano if she experienced relevant delay in respect of arrival at the final destination. It is common ground that the delay at the final destination, Austin, was over 5 hours. The liability therefore crystallised in this case.

Contrary, to the submissions of Air Canada, the existing case law has held that such an interpretation of Regulation 261 is not precluded by the territoriality principle. As explained by Arden LJ, at [77], “[t]he basis of jurisdiction asserted over non-community carriers is territorial… It is sufficient if flight 1 begins in the EU, as article 3(1) requires.” It is irrelevant whether the delay was caused within the jurisdiction or outside the jurisdiction; the contingent liability was imposed when Air Canada was within the jurisdiction. “

The decision is another case which has recently ruled in favour of the consumer with both Lipton v BA City Flyer (crew sickness does not give rise to a Defence to compensation) and Airhelp v SAS (union led strike action) ruling in favour of the consumer.


Free Eligibility Check

If your flight has been disrupted due to a delay or cancellation you may have the potential to make a claim under the EU Regulation 261/2004 for compensation.  This could be up to €600 per person.  Contact Hayward Baker on 01329 227 983 or complete our On-Line Form today to discuss the potential for a claim.

Have you had a flight that was disrupted?

You may be entitled to claim compensation.





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High Court rules in favour of passengers with disrupted journeys outside of the EU
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