Within the framework of European Union (EU) Regulation 261/2004, one of the paramount issues remains whether or not a technical defect on an aircraft occurring beyond the control of the air carrier may amount to the concept of extraordinary circumstances for the purposes of Article 5(3) of the Regulation. Following its Wallentin-Hermann ruling of 2008, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has to deal with another referral on this specific subject (‘van der Lans’). The preliminary ruling is to be expected before the end of this year.
As regards the UK jurisdiction, the Court of Appeal (civil division) with its ruling (on 11 June 2014) in the Huzar v. Jet2 case, came up with an interpretation pursuant to which a technical problem on an aircraft will almost never fall under this concept of extraordinary circumstance. The application seeking permission to appeal by the air carrier concerned was refused by the UK Supreme Court. Also the subsequent requests in the UK by various air carriers to stay proceedings pending the expected decision of the CJEU in respect of new prejudicial questions were turned down
This article intends to provide an update on the discussion on technical problems and passenger rights, merely by some substantive considerations as to why the interpretation by the Court of Appeal in Huzar v. Jet2 is wrong and the decision of the CJEU in the Van der Lans case should be awaited.Air and Space Law