Thursday, 22 November 2012

Two more decisions concerning air passengers

Today, the Court of Justice of the EU has released two judgements which European consumers/travellers might want to know about. 
In the first one, Case C-139/11 (Joan Cuadrench Moré v KLM), it established that, in the case of passengers seeking damages for the cancellation of a flight under Regulation 261/2004, the time-limits for bringing an action are to be determined by the Member States in accordance with the principles of effectiveness and equivalence in relation to the procedural rules laid down by national law in respect of similar situations. Since the Regulation put in place a system of protection that is additional to those laid down in the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions, the two-year time-limit provided by those treaties does not apply.

In the second decision, Case C-410/11 (Pedro Espada Sánchez and Others v Iberia), the Court was called to interpret the just-mentioned Montreal Convention, or the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage, to which the EU has adhered. 
The question concerned a family of four people (a Spanish couple and their two children) whose luggage went lost during a flight operated by Iberia. The Montreal Convention provides that an air carrier must pay compensation to each passenger, in the event of the loss of his baggage. In the claimants' case, the luggage of all four passengers had been put in two suitcases. The question before the Court, subsequently, was whether it was possible for the family to also claim damages for the luggage which had been not checked in under the requesting passenger's name. 
The court answered that, in light of the Convention's objectives, it must be possible for a passenger to claim damages for the loss of luggage which had been checked in under another passenger's name. The claimant must prove that the lost baggage did in fact contain his belongings. In making its assessment, the national court may take into account the fact that the concerned passengers are members of the same family, that they bought their tickets together or that they checked in at the same time.

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