Gone tech? Compensation is available

By | Category: Travel news
© Dan Sperrin

© Dan Sperrin

Update: 13 June:

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have issued guidelines which say that if your claim predates 11 June (ie the date of the court decision) then your claim will be rejected. Mr Huzar’s lawyers have said this interpretation is wrong and people will still be able to claim. Who is right? It may or may not matter as the CAA says that Jet 2 will appeal this decision so any claims will be on hold.

Have you heard of Ronald Huzar? He is a person you may have cause to be grateful for. His persistance has meant that we have now have a farily tight legal ruling about when you can get compensation if your plane goes tech. For the moment.

In a  fourteen-page decision handed down by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, he won a ruling against Jet2 for compensation when the plane he was about to fly on went tech. “Went tech” is travel parlance for a technical or mechanical breakdown meaning a plane can’t fly until the problem is identified and sorted. Sometimes it can be a minor issue but no company is going to be other than extremely cautious when safety is concerned.

Paul Hinchliffe, Managing Partner at Bott & Co – Huzar’s solicitors –  said, “This is a binding decision and a huge victory for passengers who have been wrongly denied compensation by airlines, amounting to billions of pounds for millions of consumers.  The court have made it clear that a technical problem is not an extraordinary circumstance.”

What the ruling amounts to is that if a plane goes tech because of  everyday “wear and tear,” then compensation will be due. If it is not due to wear and tear but something completely unexpected, then compensation will not be payable. So a lightning strike or a bird caught in one of the engines would not trigger compensation but an electrical light on the cockpit instrument panel lighting up would. But only if that fault delays the plane for more than three hours.

Under EU rules, Jet 2 provided accommodation and food to Mr Huzar but denied him compensation.

In this case, the problem was a wiring defect in the fuel valve circuit. But the court seems to have accepted that the defect occured within the expected life of the wire. So will manufacturers now insist on wire replacement in a shorter period to try and remove any claims? Does the airline have a claim against the manufacturer?

And is this end of the story? It seems to me that asking airlines to plan for something that can’t be planned for as in this case might mean that lawyers will seek more clarification in courts.

Maybe what this interpretation  means is that in 99% of cases when you get delayed by more than three hours for whatever reason, you will have a right to be compensated.


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