When it comes to flying, time is money!

In recent years, you may have noticed bits and pieces in the press about airlines having to pay compensation for delayed flights. A common theme of discussion has been the validity of airlines’ objections to paying out. This article explains what it’s all about and should give you a rough idea of whether or not you may be entitled to compensation yourself.

Where did it all start?

On 23 October 2012 the Court of Justice of the European Court passed regulations governing a compensation scheme in relation to EU regulated flights. For non-EU regulated flights, there may be other similar compensation schemes but we are going to focus on the flights affected by the European compensation scheme.

If you think you may be due compensation here are just a few questions that may cross your mind.

plane

How is an EU regulated flight defined?

If your flight is from Manchester to Dubai, it doesn’t matter which airline you are using as you are flying from an EU airport. However, if you were flying from Lusaka to Manchester, for example, you would have to be using an EU regulated airline such as KLM in order to claim for any delays. Sometimes, different airlines operate on a ‘codeshare’ basis meaning that one airline may sell tickets for a flight that is actually operated by another airline. When this is the case, it doesn’t matter if the ticket was sold by an airline that is not EU regulated provided the operator airline is EU regulated.

My connecting flights may be operated by different airlines.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the courts will need to consider whether this kind of journey is to be classed as one flight or two separate ones. They will also need to ascertain where the cause of the delay was and whether the flight that the delay related to was EU regulated or not. Ultimately, if your journey has involved a mix of EU and non-EU regulated operators, it may come down to a court’s decision.

Do I have to claim immediately?

No. It may be possible to claim back as far as 2005, but that is unproven, and it would be safer to assume that you may only claim up to 6 years after the date of the flight affected. Six years is the statutory limitation period for contractual claims.

What if the airline concerned has gone bust or has been brought out?

If the company has gone bust then you may be classed as a creditor and would have to make your claim to the administrator or liquidator, but if the company has been brought out the new owner is likely to have taken on liabilities as part of the purchase and you can claim your compensation through them.

What if I can’t claim from the airline, the creditor or the new owner?

Perhaps your flight was not EU regulated or the airline concerned has gone bust and there is no money available to pay you compensation. There are still options. For example, if it was a non-EU regulated flight, there may be an equivalent compensation scheme you can use depending on the airline and regulating body concerned. Failing that, your travel insurance may have it covered. No business wants unhappy customers so you can always try complaining to the airline that has let you down.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974

So you couldn’t claim because it was not an EU regulated flight. Your insurance didn’t cover it and the airline just made excuses when you wrote to them. All is not lost. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 was put in place to protect you from having to owe money for goods or services that you did not receive. If you paid for the flight with a credit card and the cost of the flight was over £100 and less than £30000 then generally speaking your credit card company will compensate you for the cost of the ticket and subsequent secondary expenses caused by the delay.

Can I claim for any delay at all?

You can only claim for delays that are the airline’s fault. This is where there have been bones of contention. Below is a list of the ‘extraordinary circumstances‘ not considered to be the fault of the airlines:

  • Bad weather
  • Industrial Action
  • Political problems
  • Security or safety issues
  • Air traffic management decisions, e.g. airspace shut due to volcanic ash
  • Technical problems – manufacturing defect
  • Terrorism

storm clouds

 

On this note, some disputes have arisen on what constitutes ‘bad weather‘ and also ‘technical problems‘. Some say the weather must be classed as ‘freak‘ in order to be classed as an extraordinary circumstance and in the case of manufacturing defects it has been argued that one should expect to see the manufacturer concerned exercising a product recall – this would effectively leave whole fleets grounded.

When is it the airline’s fault?

  • Crew / pilot late
  • Cancellation due to flight under booking
  • The airline didn’t submit its documentation on time, and the delay for that was its own fault
  • Technical problems such as component failure and general wear and tear

What if it was a package holiday?

This does not make any difference at all.

It was only a cheap ticket!

This doesn’t matter either. The compensation claim is based on the overall distance covered by the delayed flight and how many hours late you were in arriving at your destination.

How do I prove it was the airline’s fault?

This can actually be quite difficult because if the airline says it was not their fault you would then involve the CAA and they will speak to the airline concerned to find out what happened. All that means is that you will perhaps get a more detailed version of events but it is still the airline’s version of events.

How much can I claim?

The amount you can claim will depend on how many miles were to be covered by the flight and your lateness in arriving at the destination. You must be delayed by 3 hours or more, so if you departed over 3 hours later than planned but arrived at your destination airport only 2 hours and 45 minutes late, you will not be able to claim any compensation at all.

You can claim anything from €125 to €440 depending on the circumstances but do note that the pay-out is in Euros, not Sterling.

The minimum bracket of compensation relates to flight lengths of up to 1,500km where the arrival time was delayed by up to 2 hours. The maximum will be paid out for flights of over 3,500km between an EU and non-EU airport, where the arrival time was delayed by over 4 hours.

Compensation is paid per person so if you have been travelling with the family you may be due a large amount.

Do I get cash?

Some airlines have been known to try paying compensation using vouchers but you have the right to refuse these and to ask for the cash amount that you are due.

What if I am delayed by more than a few hours?

You are actually entitled to costs for any delays over two hours to cover food, drinks and communications. If you are delayed overnight, you are also entitled to accommodation. Costs are due even if the delay was not the airline’s fault. Ryanair challenged this in 2013 but the Court of the European Union upheld consumers’ rights to care and assistance. If you are significantly delayed the airline may give you vouchers for food and drinks on the spot however you can’t count on this. If you have pay these costs yourself, you are advised to keep the receipts so you can claim them back later from the airline.

Can I have a ticket refund?

If you are delayed by 5 hours or more you may decide not to travel and you qualify for the total refund of the ticket cost, no matter whose fault the flight delay was. That said, if you demand a refund any subsequent costs for accommodation and sustenance are your own.

Demanding a refund does not disqualify you from claiming compensation as well if the delay was caused by the airline and all other claiming criteria has been met!

What will I need to claim?

A lot of the time, the airline will cough up because it knows and accepts blame for the delay but if they choose to wipe their feet, it will help you to have the following to hand:

  • Passenger details – names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers
  • Any previous airline reference numbers – you may have already complained to the airline with no success
  • Flight details – booking reference, flight number, where you were flying to and from, what dates
  • Flight length
  • Supporting documents – receipts, flight tickets, boarding passes, e-tickets

plane-ticket

I am still not sure!

We can only cover so much in a blog post such as this. Getting compensation doesn’t have to be a major hassle but it is quicker if you know what you are doing and that is where a solicitor can be really helpful and cost effective.

If you think you have a claim and could do with the reassurance that comes with professional help, get in touch with us today.

Both in civil law and criminal law, timing and deadlines are absolutely essential to proceedings. Whether looking at the obligations of others in terms of their actions or considering the procedures we need to stick to, deadlines are important and not meeting them will make a difference on whether or not you get what you are entitled to or, more importantly, suffer a seemingly unfair consequence.

A plethora of deadlines

What’s even more complicated is that the deadlines vary greatly from hours and days to years. The implications of missed deadlines can be quite dramatic. The deadlines for making personal injury claims for example will vary depending on the specifics of the claim and the deadline for claiming compensation for a delayed flight is an entirely separate matter again.

deadlines

Deadlines cut both ways

Likewise, you could find that a claim being made against you, such as for a speeding fine for example, cannot be enforced because a deadline has not been met by those who are trying to enforce the fine.

deadlines

Be on the safe side

The different deadlines can be a complicated and muddled affair for anybody, lawyers included, and we don’t want to blind you with a stack of different deadlines here. That would defeat the object. There are some general rules of good housekeeping however that will set you in good stead.

Assume nothing

When you receive correspondence and you see perhaps that there is a stack of forms to go through, don’t just put them aside thinking you can come back to them later on. Nobody likes forms but at least checking what has been asked will give you a chance to be sure of any deadlines that need to be adhered to, and you may find that the form is not that great a nuisance after all.

If you are taking an action to get something you want whether it is some kind of appeal or decision, claiming something that is owed to you, complaining about an issue, be as prompt as you can. Your deadline may be passed if you delay.

Keep solid records

Those who keep good records of where they have been and what they have done are more likely to be able to spot a deadline has been passed and whether or not others have not followed procedure in terms of timing. Of course, even the smartest people would be wise to get legal advice on these matters as the rules can be complex.

By keeping good records and making a note of when correspondence was sent (using recorded delivery) or received as well as dates showing on the top of any correspondence received, these dates can be compared and contrasted with the dates of events referred to in the correspondence and this evidence could affect outcomes for or against you.

Act now

By having a policy of acting immediately on all written requests, phone calls and emails you make it less likely that you will trip up on a deadline and, where appropriate, make it more likely that the people you are dealing with may miss theirs.

now

Seek the correct legal advice

Self-investigation can help but googling does not often give the full picture. Yes, you may be able to gain some insights but a little information is also a dangerous thing. Most solicitors are happy to give you some free time to explain what the issue is and have a chat with you before you commit to their legal service. Sometimes that one conversation is all you need. Other times, while you may resent paying for the justice you are entitled to, you will save yourself a lot of money or inconvenience by bringing in a professional.

Here at Hallam Solicitors, we pride ourselves on being friendly, approachable and thorough, ensuring that you get the best advice possible and are spoken to with plain language. Just give us a call to discuss.

If you have noticed car insurance premiums increasing in recent years, you are not alone. Premiums have continued to rise because of personal injury claims and the ‘claims culture’ according to insurance companies.

This, it is said, is because of the prevalence of whiplash claims, many of which are fraudulent according to insurance assessors. While there is little doubt that fraudulent scams have been increasing with claims for personal injuries such as whiplash being the mechanism of preference, it is still important that those who are injured in a RTA (Road Traffic Accident) have access to justice and to a personal injury claim.

Osborne’s Autumn Statement

With this in mind, George Osborne announced a new tactic in the fight against fraud in his Autumn Statement last year. The tactic came as a surprise to many, including the Ministry of Justice, as the Chancellor appeared to pull it out of the hat from nowhere. So what was this new tactic?

Mr Osborne announced an increase in the Small Claims Limit for damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenity from £1000 to £5000 for all claims, and furthermore there would be no compensation whatsoever for “minor soft tissue injuries”.

On the surface, one may think this sounds like a good move in the fight against fraudulent claims however, given that the vast majority of all accidents attract damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity below £5000, clearly the losers will be genuine victims while the insurers will make big savings.

Access to justice denied

If there are any doubts at all that the insurers stand to cash in on the changes, these can be completely quashed by the fact that had these proposals been implemented earlier up to the 95% of the 759,763 RTA victims in 2014 who were awarded compensation would have been unable to claim for their injuries at all. Many legal commentators and lawyers who act for victims of accidents consider this outrageous.

These rules don’t just affect those involved in RTAs either.

Last year, out of the 208,310 claims by those injured at work through public liability or the fault of occupiers, up to 85% would have been forced to bring their claims in the Small Claims Court.

The small claims process is designed for people to bring claims without the help of lawyers. Well, they can, but they cannot, as now, recover the costs of the lawyers from the Defendant. Personal injury claims can be complex and you can be sure that, even though you would not be able to rely on legal help the insurers certainly will and the chances are you will be at a disadvantage in the claim.

The reality of the changes is that those involved in claims of less of than £5000, and that is a substantial percentage of those wanting to make claims, now have grim choice to either face insurance companies head on without a lawyer or have to pay their legal costs in full out of any compensation they are awarded. No prizes for guessing who is likely to win in these disputes. What it boils down to is no representation for injured persons and a blow against justice for all!

And what about those who want to hire a lawyer?

Sadly, even for those that decide to pay for a lawyer, who are resolved to sacrifice anywhere between 30 and 40% of their compensation, are still going to struggle to find a suitable personal injury lawyer to help them. Specialist personal injury solicitors are dropping like flies which is opening up the door for the less scrupulous and unqualified chancers to step up and make a killing.

Another consideration that is preventing justice from being delivered is the financial risk to injured persons. This is leading to injured parties not making claims. This leaves the insurance companies to benefit from withholding compensation that they would have been paying out before. For victims of RTA’s with small claims of less than £5000 they are doing well if an insurance company makes an offer that is only a small percentage of what they are really entitled to.

So where’s the benefit for Joe Public?

The chancellor had claimed that with the drop in fraudulent pay-outs for things like whiplash or soft tissue claims, that we call all expect a reduction in our motor insurance premiums of between £40 and £50 per annum.

Many argue that no reductions in car insurance premiums have materialised. Have you noticed any difference in yours? To add insult to injury, Osborne has increased Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) by 3.5% which is hardly going to help keep premiums down.

Don’t be denied justice

We believe in justice for all and are proud of the fact that we are still going strong. Don’t be denied access to justice if you are involved in an RTA or any other incident where you believe you have a claim for injury.

To find out how we can help you with your personal injury claim, get in touch.

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