Liverpool County Court has backed Ryanair’s claim that flight delay compensation claims submitted on behalf of passengers should only be heard in Irish courts.
The court dismissed an application by delayed flight compensation firm, Hughes Walker, that the claims they were handling on behalf of passengers for delayed and cancelled flights should be heard in England.
Ryanair argued that it had inserted a clause into its booking terms and conditions in 2010 that all compensation claims against the airline would only be dealt with in Irish courts, adding that it would only trigger this ‘clause’ when claims were submitted by third parties on behalf of passengers.
The Irish airline added that it had inserted the clause into its terms and conditions to ‘protect’ passengers using claims management companies (CMC’s) to act on their behalf for claims relating to delayed or cancelled flights.
Liverpool County Court heard that Ryanair had put on hold up to 200 cases as they waited for the ruling. Judge Graham Wood QC said that the decision, whether it be in this or a higher court, would have ‘far reaching ramifications for a vast number of other flight delay claims, and in particular those involving solicitors and CMC’s.
Ryanair’s terms and conditions also state that claims submitted by third parties wouldn’t be considered unless a claim was made directly from a passenger and had been previously rejected.
Ryanair spokesman Kenny Jacobs said: “We welcome this County Court ruling upholding Ryanair’s jurisdiction clause which prevents ‘claims chaser’ firms deliberately and needlessly dragging consumers through the courts so they can grab up to 50% of customer’s compensation, for providing no useful service.”
Jacobs added: “As the most reliable airline in Europe, Ryanair has the most on-time flights and the fewest cancellations, and in the rare event of delays or cancellations, we comply fully with all EU261 legislation. Where customers have a valid claim for compensation they can make their claim directly on the Ryanair.com website.
However flight compensation specialist, FlightDelays.co.uk, had earlier warned that if the case was ruled Ryanair’s favour, it would make it harder for all its passengers to seek compensation.
“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.”
Hughes Walker was given leave to appeal the court’s decision and said it would “carefully consider” the judgment and decide whether to appeal in the three-week deadline given.
The judgment by Liverpool County Court came in the same week Ryanair unveiled a 5pc increase in pre-tax profits to €1.47bn and a 2pc rise in revenues to €6.6bn.