Lovetts Solicitors today released a report looking into the potential implications of Brexit for the flight compensation sector, examining the possible legal outcomes of a deal, no-deal, or no-Brexit scenario. The Firm said that the ability for consumers to claim compensation from EU airlines not based in the UK would be ‘severely hampered’ in the event of a no-deal.
- Since 2004, passengers traveling between or on airlines registered to, European Union (EU) Member States, have been entitled to compensation for delayed or cancelled flights under the EU Law EC 261/2004.
- However, having voted to leave the EU via referendum on June 23rd 2016, the UK’s departure from the bloc threatens to remove these legal rights from UK consumers.
- To compensate for this, and a host of other EU legislative losses brought about by Brexit, UK Parliament on June 26th 2018 passed the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, allowing the country to create a new category of domestic law that retains EU legislation.
- As it stands, if the UK does not revoke Article 50 (the clause in the EU Lisbon Treaty that outlines the steps to be taken by a country seeking to leave the bloc voluntarily), it looks set to leave the EU with or without a deal on October 31st 2019 (Halloween).
Legal protections provided by the Withdrawal Act
Within the 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act, the specific UK domestic legislation relating to the flight compensation sector is called The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 which under Part 4, section 8, enshrines regulation EC 261/2004 into domestic law.
This section makes amendments to EC 261/2004, like converting Euros to GBP such as:
- (a) £220 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less;
- (b) £350 for all flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres;
- (c) £520 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b).
This is designed to protect current UK consumer rights, and comes into force the day after the country leaves the EU, with or without a deal. It is positive from a passenger rights point of view as it ensures they can continue to claim compensation from airlines.
Potential limitations imposed by a no-deal Brexit
However, despite the attempts made to protect consumer rights by UK Parliament within the Withdrawal Act, the process for claiming against non-UK airlines will change if the UK leaves without a deal. Currently in draft form and subject to the UK leaving without a deal, there is a proposal to change the Civil Procedure Rules via The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.
The changes include the disapplication of the recast Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention in relation to questions of jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments. There will also be amendments to remove provisions relating to European Small Claims Procedure, European Enforcement Orders and the enforcement of Community judgments, which will become redundant post-Brexit.
In short, this means that it will become much more difficult for UK citizens to receive flight compensation from EU-based airlines, and that there will likely be less legal framework in place to protect UK rights in the event that initial claims are unsuccessful. Consumer rights in relation to claiming Flight Compensation will in theory be protected with or without a Brexit deal. However, the ability for consumers to claim compensation from EU airlines not based in the UK will be severely hampered in the event of a no deal.
The full report examines the potential legal implications for the flight compensation sector in the event of a deal, no-deal, or no-Brexit scenario, and can be viewed and downloaded in full here.
Lovetts Solicitors is a UK-based firm providing domestic and international legal and pre-legal services, and specialising in debt recovery and dispute resolution. For more information, please visit www.lovetts.co.uk