A claim made by solicitors against air carrier RyanAir, concerning flight delay compensation, has been rejected by a high court judge.
The solicitors, who are employed by a law firm in Cheshire that specializes in flight delay compensation claims, had filed the claim in hopes of recovering legal fees. However, the claims were deemed invalid as Ryanair agreed with the plaintiffs to settle directly.
According to regulations established by the EU, airlines are required to compensate passengers who have been affected by significant flight delays (3 hours or more). However, this does not apply to delays caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond the concerned airline’s control. This typically includes bad weather or strikes organised by the ATC (Air Traffic Control).
However, compensations are due when the delays are caused by staffing issues or mechanical faults.
A case of unpaid fees
The law firm in question is believed to handle over 20,000 compensation claims every year. The average payout, according to the company, amounts to 327 Euros. The firm keeps one-third of the payment as their fee.
Generally, the airlines pay the fee directly and pass the remaining balance to the client. However, since 2016, RyanAir adopted a new policy of directly compensating the affected passengers.
This led to the firm filing a case against the air carrier for unpaid fees. In fact, the company has even tried to recover the fees from the passengers, but 30% of them refused to pay.
The solicitors, in their favour, cited a clause in the terms and conditions issued by RyanAir that required passengers to contact the airline prior to using a third party. They referred to this clause as being unfair.
However, Judge Edward Murray, ruled in favour of RyanAir, stating that the carrier has developed an easy and direct process of settling compensation, thereby, simplifying matters for the passengers. He also highlighted the fact that claimants were no longer in third-party assistance, implying that it was a positive feature of RyanAir’s new process.
Chief Marketing Officer for RyanAir, Kenny Jacobs, spoke to the media, mentioning that the ruling was a game changer. He stated that the new rule will prevent claim-chasing firms from exploiting frustrated passengers by taking away a good percentage of their compensation.
As of now, passengers affected by RyanAir’s delays will be able to claim compensation by simply visiting the carrier’s website. It is believed that most claims are now settled in a matter of just 10 days.
A spokesperson for the law firm described the ruling as “disappointing” and “unfair”. He went on to state that the company would be appealing the decision. He mentioned that his company was only fighting for the rights of passengers and that the ruling was a setback with regard to this.
The firm claims that it offers a ‘direct to airline’ option to its customers and even free letters of claims. Even so, it still has enough passengers making use of its paid services.
Now, the firm believes that, without a “middle-man” to fight for passengers, there will be no one to truly hold airlines accountable.