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Five airlines have been told they cannot postpone giving compensation payments to passengers whose flights have been delayed by technical problems.
Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Flybe, and Wizz Air had wanted Liverpool County Court to stay, or delay, one woman's claim over a delayed Jet2 flight, while a Dutch case on the same issue was heard in the European Court of Justice.
But the judge rejected this saying: "a line should now been drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied.’
Lawyers for passenger Kim Allen from Lancashire claimed the ruling could benefit tens of thousands of consumers with delay compensation claims.
Allen is claiming €400 in compensation after a delay flying from Manchester to Malaga in March 2012.
Her Jet2 flight was delayed by almost seven hours due to a technical problem, a flap slat fault, which occurred just prior to take off.
Allen’s case was originally stayed pending last year’s Huzar v Jet2 case in which Court of Appeal judges ruled that technical problems are not an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.
The stay on her case was initially lifted after Huzar’s victory but Jet2 soon made an application to stay Allen’s claim yet again.
The airline wanted to put the case on hold pending the outcome of the Dutch case, which has been referred to the European Court of Justice.
The van der Lans case will mainly look at whether a technical problem that arises spontaneously - as opposed to one which is detected during routine maintenance - is an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.
Extraordinary circumstances are the airline’s only defence to paying out flight delay compensation.
Kevin Clarke, flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co Solicitors who represented Allen, said:
“We’re delighted that once again the court has rebuffed the airline’s attempts to continue delaying legitimate passenger claims.
“Bott & Co alone have over 8,000 clients with claims against the five airlines who had requested stays similar to that in Ms Allen’s case.
“We’ve seen continual legal challenges to the finer details of flight delay regulation by the airlines since it was first introduced and it’s pleasing the court is now taking a firm line against them.
“We would hope that the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.
“Sadly the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”
A spokesman for Jet2 said: "As Jet2.com has only just received the judgment the company is currently considering its position."
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