Airline delays – How to get compensation?
On 3 February 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) completed its case law on compensation for delayed flights and clarified the issue of connections.
The case concerned a flight to Malé in the Maldives from Warsaw. A connection was planned in Frankfurt, and it was the delay in the arrival of this first leg, which did not allow the passengers concerned to reach their connection to Malé, that was the subject of the debate.
The rules of jurisdiction in matters of compensation following a flight delay
The mission lead by CJEU was to identify the competent court to rule on compensation. According to the European Regulation 261/2004, several hypotheses could be envisaged: either the place of departure of the first segment, in this case Warsaw, or the place of arrival of the last segment, namely Malé.
However, in this case, the claimants, on the basis of European Regulation 1215/2012, chose the third option: to bring the case before the German court, the place of their delay. The judge declared himself incompetent on the grounds that neither the place of departure nor the place of arrival of the flight fell within his jurisdiction.
The need for a single booking contract: a decisive criteria
The Warsaw-Male flight had been booked as a single booking with Lufthansa. The Warsaw-Frankfurt segment, operated by the Polish company LOT Polish Airlines, could not be classified as a place of performance, as it was not included in the contract of carriage within the meaning of Article 7 of Regulation 1215/2012 referred to by the applicants.
It was in these circumstances that a question was raised before the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.
The qualification of the place of performance of the contract in determining the jurisdiction of the court
Without wishing to limit this debate to the place of departure or arrival of flights, the CJEU in its judgment of 3 February 2022 makes an important distinction as to whether the court of the place of connection is to be seised depending on whether that place represents “a place of main supply or of services”, which makes it possible to justify a close link between the contract of carriage and the competent court.
In other words, as soon as services are contractually scheduled at the place of this connection, this place may acquire the status of a place of performance of the contract within the meaning of Article 7 of European Regulation 1215/2012.
The Frankfurt court did not lay down any precise criteria in that regard to justify the existence of a sufficient link of proximity between the facts of the main proceedings and its jurisdiction. Nevertheless, it’s these elements that could have opened the way for a German claim for compensation for the injured passengers.
The rules on jurisdiction in matters of compensation for flight delays are still a matter of concern to consumers, who are often afraid to bring a case before a court in another Member State and therefore do not pursue their claims. This is why it is so important to be accompanied by a legal specialist.
Author: Nathan Yahiaoui