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Disabled air passenger barred from compensation claim

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The Supreme Court ruled recently that damages could not be awarded to a disabled passenger for distress and injury to feelings caused during air travel.

The claimant in this case was severely disabled and a permanent wheel-chair user. On booking flights for himself and his wife to Greece he arranged with the airline that he would be seated next to his wife so that she could attend to his personal needs during the flight. On the return flight no such seating arrangements were available and his wife encountered extreme difficulty in attending to him.

The claim was supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and also by the Secretary of State for Transport; who intervened on behalf of the claimant. The Supreme Court ruled however that what mattered in the case was not the quality of the cause of action but the time and place of the mishap. The damages claim was focussed on events occurring on board the aircraft in the course of flight. Damages in this type of case are currently excluded by the terms of the Montreal Convention unifying rules for international carriage by air adopted by the European Union. In light of this, the court rejected the compensation claim.

David Rogerson comments “The Court acknowledged that the judgement was unfair but reported that their hands were tied by the international rules on air travel”.

If you would like assistance in relation to a claim please call David on 01636 673731] for further information.