A guide to the Goel and Trivedi vs. Ryanair case

Case facts

Claimant: Archana Goel & Diwakar Trivedi

Both claimants were denied compensation after being delayed by more than 8 hours on a return flight from Spain in March 2008.

Ms. Goel added a companion (Jaskirat Baweja) to her appeal.

Mr. Trivedi appealed on behalf of himself and his family (Babita Trivedi, Udit Trivedi and Shreya Trivedi)
The same solicitor provided legal representation to both parties.

  • Flight Number: FR3845
  • Route: Barcelona (Reus) – London (Stansted)
  • Flight distance / duration: 1,195km (2hr 15min)
  • Scheduled departure date: 6 March 2010

Defendant: Ryanair Ltd

The Dublin-based airline dominates the low-cost air travel market and is currently the largest flight operator in Europe, carrying 106 million passengers in 2016.

Ryanair appointed Ince & Co. Solicitors to file a defence against the appeals.

Court:

  • Manchester County Court (6 August 2015)

What happened?

Flight delay circumstances

Goel and Trivedi were stranded with fellow passengers at Reus Airport in Spain when Ryanair decided to ground flight FR3845 after a technical fault was discovered.

The issue wasn’t resolved until several hours later and the flight arrived at Stansted at 7:59 am on 7 March 2008, 8 hours and 19 minutes behind schedule. Consequently, Goel and Trivedi both became eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The cause of the flight delay itself was not contested by Ryanair in this case, instead it was the time limits imposed on subsequent claims that were called into question.

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Legal action

An appeal was lodged by Goel and Trivedi after their respective claims for compensation were dismissed without the cases being heard in court.

After receiving compensation requests from Goel and Trivedi’s solicitors, Ryanair wrote to Manchester County Court asking them to inform the claimants that the airline was going to reject the claims on two principles: (a) the claims were made outside of the allotted time as stipulated by Ryanair’s booking terms and conditions (i.e. more than two years after the event); and (b) the delay was a result of “extraordinary circumstances”.

Manchester County Court

On March 27 2014, the claims were considered on paper by Deputy District Judge Masheder, who subsequently agreed with the airline: “The court is satisfied that the Defendant’s standard terms and conditions were incorporated into the contract, including the contractual limitation clause for bring proceedings within two years – The present claim was lodged on 30th January 2014 some 5 years and 8 months after the matter giving rise to the complaint. The claim is therefore ‘time barred’.”

However, Judge Masheder did reiterate that as the order had been made without an official hearing, Goel and Trivedi would have the right to submit an appeal – solicitor did so on their behalf on 27 March 2014.

The request for an appeal was accepted by the court but the hearing itself was put on hold until decisions were made in the Huzar vs. Jet2 and Dawson vs. Thomson Airways test cases. The Supreme Court ruled against the respective airlines at both of these hearings which led to Ryanair focusing on the ‘time limit’ aspect of their argument against paying compensation to Goel and Trivedi.

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Case significance

Goel and Trivedi vs. Ryanair was to be a landmark case given that numerous airlines had similar clauses in their terms and conditions which were designed to prevent legal action being taken more than two years after the event. If the case was ruled in Ryanair’s favour it would have allowed all airlines to impose a two-year restriction on existing and future claims made under EU Regulation 261/2004 – impacting millions of potential claimants.

Decision

Fortunately for air passengers throughout Europe, His Honour Judge Platts upheld Article 15 of EU Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004, which affirms that airlines “cannot limit or restrict the rights contained in the Regulations.” In summarising, Judge Platts referred to the Supreme Court judgement in Dawson vs. Thomson Airways which made it clear that passengers claiming compensation in England and Wales have SIX years in which to do so. The Dawson vs. Thomson Airways ruling means that Ryanair is legally obliged to follow the Supreme Court’s time restrictions, not those stipulated by the airline itself.

Richard Lloyd, Executive Director of the Which? consumer group, released a statement reiterating the magnitude of Judge Platt’s ruling: “This case is a huge victory for consumers and should deter other attempts to shorten the six year time limit for seeking redress… It's about time that airlines hold their hands up and pay compensation where it is due."

Ramifications

A year after the court ruling, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) penalised budget airlines, Jet2 and Wizz Air for imposing a similar two-year limit on claims. However, no punishment was administered to Ryanair – CAA officials later released their compliance report which confirmed that Ryanair was “not applying a two-year limit on claims”.

The Manchester County Court judgement has opened the door for approximately 2.26 million Ryanair passenger claims alone, and has the potential to cost the airline as much as £610 million in compensation pay-outs.

Unfortunately for those booking flights in the future, the financial cost of these claims is more than likely to be passed onto passengers by increasing ticket prices.

According to a 2014 European Commission report, airlines would need to implement an average fare increase of approximately £2 per one-way ticket to offset the financial impact of compensation pay-outs (including costs associated with providing accommodation, transport and food vouchers).

Ironically, by March 2011, Ryanair had already introduced an ‘EU 261’ surcharge of €2 (£1.75) on all bookings in anticipation of an influx of claims being made in the wake of the April 2010 volcanic ash cloud incident.

You could win compensation too…

If you’ve had a flight delayed or cancelled in the last six years, now is the time to claim. Flight Delay Claims 4 U can check historical flight data on your behalf in case you are unable to remember specific details.

A dedicated team of claims advisors are on hand assess your circumstances to estimate the amount of compensation available to you before initiating the enforcement of your EU air passenger rights through the appointment of a qualified legal professional. If necessary, the lawyer assigned to your case will use the precedent set by Goel and Trivedi vs. Ryanair to ensure that your claim is not unfairly rejected on the grounds of an airline-stipulated time restriction.

By claiming with Flight Delay Claims 4 U, you’ll benefit from a risk-free ‘no win, no fee’ policy – get in touch with our team today to get your claim underway.