Lawyers acting for a woman claiming flight delay compensation against Ryanair have reportedly been told by the airline that it will no longer accept the jurisdiction of the English courts.
Solicitors acting for a woman known only as Ms Menditta, who claimed against Dublin-based Ryanair after a delay in 2015, have been told that a clause in the airline’s terms and conditions requires disputes to be decided by the Irish courts.
Liverpool county court is due to hear Menditta’s case against Ryanair in April, but the airline will argue the claim must be brought in Ireland, The Guardian reported.
If the court agrees, all Ryanair passengers could be forced to go through courts in Ireland to chase denied compensation.
Nicholas Parkinson, a panel solicitor for the flight compensation firmFlightDelays.co.uk, who brought the claim on the passenger’s behalf, highlighted the implications for all air passengers if Ryanair is successful.
“If passengers were only able to bring a claim using Irish solicitors in the Irish courts, the vast majority of passengers living outside the Republic of Ireland will probably not bother to bring a claim at all – especially bearing in mind that most claims against Ryanair are only worth between £210 and £350,” he said.
“To our knowledge no other reputable airlines have a similar clause in their terms and conditions or, if there are, they do not attempt to rely on this clause.”
Kevin Clarke, a flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co solicitors, said the case could represent the biggest threat so far to the rights of passengers under regulation EC 261/2004.
“If Ryanair were to win, this could allow all airlines to select any country within which passengers must bring their claim.
“There would be nothing stopping UK airlines from stipulating the country in which court proceedings must be commenced in their terms and conditions – meaning UK passengers would need to find a solicitor in Lithuania or Lebanon, or wherever else the airline chooses.”
Ryanair said it requires customers to submit flight disruption claims directly to it before engaging third party “claims chasers”.
“Claims chasers don’t like our terms and conditions, because they are designed solely to protect our customers, and ensure they receive 100% of the compensation they are due.”
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