17 March 2016: CJEU in Ruijssenaars and Jansen (C-145/15, C-146/15)
In January we have commented on the opinion of AG Bot regarding the interpretation of Art. 16 of the Regulation No 261/2004 on air passenger rights (No administrative fines for misbehaving airlines...). Two weeks ago the CJEU confirmed the AG Bot's opinion and decided that enforcement bodies designated by the Member States on the basis of Art. 16 to uphold the effective protection of air passenger rights pursuant to the rules of this Regulation are not required to take enforcement actions against the air carrier, which refuses to pay the compensation to an individual passenger. Instead these bodies are seen as having only a duty to ensure a "general compliance with the regulation" (Par. 29). What does this mean?
"In particular, the ‘complaints’ which any passenger may make to that body pursuant to Article 16(2) of Regulation No 261/2004 are to be regarded as a form of alert signal intended to contribute to the proper application of the regulation in general, without that body being required to act on such complaints in order to guarantee each individual passenger’s right to obtain compensation.
Next, the term ‘sanction’ as used in Article 16(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 — that provision being read in conjunction recital 21 of the regulation — must be interpreted as referring to the measures adopted in response to the infringements which the body identifies in the course of its general monitoring activities provided for in Article 16(1), not to administrative enforcement action to be taken in each individual case." (Par. 31-32)
As a result, an individual air passenger seeking to enforce his or her claim against an air carrier, which refuses to pay the compensation on the basis of the Regulationo No 261/2004, should go straight to the national court and not count on the national enforcement body to be able to help him or her out.