Andrew Butler wins Montreal Convention Claim

International air passengers, when refused a flight by an airline, without justification, and between check-in and disembarkation, will have a claim outside the Montreal Convention.

  • Date: 04 Feb, 2016
  • In: News
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Andrew Butler has succeeded in a claim which has potentially significant ramifications for the airline industry.

The claim arose from an unpromising source: an altercation between passengers prior to take-off on a London-bound Air Canada flight at Toronto Airport. Following the altercation, Andrew’s clients were ejected from the plane, and forced to purchase new tickets for their return to the UK. They instructed Andrew on a direct access basis to pursue a claim for compensation against the airline.

Air Canada resisted the claim, instructing Clyde & Co and Counsel from leading aviation set Quadrant Chambers. As well as raising issues on the facts, they argued that, on Supreme Court authority of Stott –v- Thomas Cook [2014] AC 1347, the Montreal Convention provides an exclusive code for all claims by air passengers arising between check-in and disembarkation. While the Montreal Convention recognises claims for delay, personal injury and lost baggage, it does not recognise claims arising out of a simple refusal to provide carriage. Thus they argued, in effect, that an international airline could refuse to provide carriage by air with impunity.

In a lengthy reserved judgment taking in authorities from the US, France and other jurisdictions, a judge at Kingston County Court found in favour of Andrew’s client on the facts and the law, acceding to Andrew’s argument that the Montreal Convention could not apply where the carrier refused to provide the very service which engaged it. The Judge also made a costs order against Air Canada.

To download the full judment, click here.