Ryanair loses case against compensation claim timeframe after lengthy legal battle

A recent court judgment means that millions of passengers on delayed Ryanair flights could soon be entitled to compensation, after it was decided that the airline cannot limit the window of opportunity people have to submit claims.

The case first arose when six passengers tried to obtain compensation for their delayed flight five years and eight months after the departure date.

Ryanair disputed the claims by stating that that they operated a two-year limit for compensation requests, which was part of a clause in their terms and conditions.

However, after hearing Ryanair’s defence at Manchester County Court, Judge Platts said that the airline’s argument, which was based on a technicality contained in its small print, was overly complex and “… requires a somewhat ingenious legal analysis which I doubt was in the mind of the parties when the contract was made”.

The Judge ruled that Ryanair’s two-year claim policy went against European flight delay law, which allows claims to be made within six years.

As a result, it is expected that the Dublin-based airline could be forced to pay out approximately £610 million in compensation to delayed passengers.

If Ryanair had won the case, other airlines would have been able to follow its example in imposing a two-year limit on all existing and future flight delay claims.

The decision was reached after a lengthy legal battle, but the airline has made it clear that it still intends to appeal.

In a statement, Ryanair said: “We note this ruling which reverses Lower Court orders that a two-year time limit for claims is reasonable.

“Since we believe a six-year time limit for submitting such claims is both unnecessary and unreasonable, we have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this ruling.”

The executive director of consumer champion charity Which? – Richard Lloyd – said: “This case is a huge victory for consumers and should deter other attempts to shorten the six-year time limit for seeking redress.

“It’s about time that airlines hold their hands up and pay compensation where it is due.

“We are urging people to hold their airline to account and claim the compensation they are rightly owed if they have a lengthy delay and the airline is at fault.”

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London