A guide to the Huzar vs. Jet2.com case

Case facts

Claimant: Ron Huzar

Mr. Huzar was travelling home from Spain with his wife and granddaughter when he was delayed by 27 hours – he represented himself in court initially, before instructing solicitors to manage his subsequent appeal in regards to claiming compensation against Jet2.

  • Flight number: LS810
  • Aircraft: Boeing 737
  • Route: Malaga – Manchester
  • Flight distance / duration: 1,850km (3hr 5min)
  • Scheduled departure date / time: 26th October 2011 (18:25 PM)

Defendant: Jet2.com Limited

Operating predominantly from the North of England, Jet2 specialise in affordable flights and package holidays. The airline has been integral to the rapid growth of low-cost air travel since the turn of the century and currently carry more than 6 million passengers a year, making them the fourth-largest flight operator in the UK.

Jet2 instructed Bird and Bird Solicitors to file a defence against Mr. Huzar’s claim.

Court:

  • Stockport County Court (10th June 2013)
  • Manchester County Court (8th October 2013)
  • Court of Appeal (22nd May 2014)

What happened?

Delay circumstances

The Huzar vs. Jet2.com legal case surfaced after a 27 hour flight delay that was suffered by Ron Huzar and his family in October 2011. Ron was due to travel back to Manchester on Jet2 flight LS810 after a relaxing holiday in Spain with his wife and granddaughter when a technical problem a 27 hour delay.

A possible fuel shut-off valve defect was detected on the Boeing 737 aircraft on the inbound flight to Malaga. Once the plane had landed, Jet2 called in engineers to replace the faulty valve. However, they were unable to complete the repair before the airport closed for the evening.

The next day a wiring fault was uncovered within the fuel valve unit. This represented a serious safety issue so Jet2 took the decision to replace the wiring. To do so, they had to wait for specialist engineers and the relevant wiring components to arrive from their base at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

To prevent further journey delays, the airline had no choice but to fly another aircraft in from Glasgow to take stranded passengers back to Manchester – a staggering 27 hours later than planned!

For a confidential chat, Call us FREE
FREEPHONE 0800 044 3766

Legal action

Stockport County Court

Mr. Huzar decided to bring his complaint to the small claims court – on 10th June 2013, the first of three Huzar v Jet2 court cases was heard at Stockport County Court by Deputy District Judge Dignan. Mr Huzar chose to represent himself in court and was seeking compensation for himself, his wife and his granddaughter. Jet2 appointed commercial solicitors to present their case.

‘Extraordinary circumstances’ were cited by the airline’s lawyers throughout the Huzar vs. Jet2.com case and in this instance, Deputy Judge Dignan agreed with them, stating, “if there is a defect which could not have been revealed during ordinary flight maintenance and of itself is so exceptional that it could not have been detected in advance through maintenance and examination, and I am prepared to find that that sort of fault is beyond the control of the carrier, and therefore the exception to the regulations does apply in this case." The judge went on to conclude his Huzar vs. Jet2 ruling by dismissing the passenger’s claim.

Manchester County Court

Having been unsuccessful in his attempts to represent himself and his family in court, the claimant decided to enlist the help of solicitors to appeal the original Huzar vs. Jet2 judgement.

A Huzar vs. Jet2 appeal hearing was requested on the basis that the law was misunderstood and wrongly applied by Deputy Judge Dignan at Stockport County Court. Permission was given to stage the appeal at Manchester County Court on 8th October 2013.

Mr Huzar’s representatives cited the precedent case of Wellentin-Hermann vs. Alitalia throughout the appeal hearing to illustrate the difference between “extraordinary circumstances” and issues that are “inherent to the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and is beyond the actual control of that carrier.”

Jet2’s legal team began by implying that the technical issue that had caused Mr. Huzar’s travel disruption was not a result of poor maintenance on the airline’s part and therefore should be considered as an extraordinary circumstance. The solicitors representing Mr. Huzar contested these claims by insisting that the fault was down to the kind of ‘wear and tear’ that is inherent to the running of an airline. In summarising, the claimant’s lawyer presented the argument that the technical problem was within the flight operator’s control due to the absence of any unforeseen external causes.

The judge presiding over this Huzar vs. Jet2.com appeal case ruled in the passenger’s favour on the basis that the technical fault itself might not be inherent to the regular activity of an airline, but the process of fixing it is. His honour Judge Platts went on to explain, “The delay caused by the resolution of an unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable technical problem cannot be said to be an extraordinary circumstance given… air carriers have to encounter and deal with such circumstances as part of running an airline just as the owner of a car has to encounter and deal with unexpected and unforeseen breakdowns of his car.”

Court of Appeal

There was a further hearing of the Huzar vs. Jet2 case in 2014. The airline decided to exercise their right to appeal Judge Platt’s decision and the Court of Appeal granted permission for them to do so at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Again, Jet2’s legal representatives centred their defence on the existence of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ by arguing that a technical problem found to be the result of a manufacturing defect is to be considered as extraordinary in nature.

In providing their judgement on Huzar vs. Jet2, Court of Appeal judges decided to uphold the previous ruling and reject the airline’s appeal in this case.

Huzar vs. Jet2.com Supreme Court appeal

Jet2.com weren’t prepared to accept the Court of Appeal decision and a further appeal request was submitted to the Supreme Court in. However, the court denied them permission to appeal again, stating that a Huzar vs Jet2 Supreme Court appeal would serve no purpose because “…the application does not raise a point of law of general public importance and, in relation to the point of European Union law said to be raised by or in response to the application, it is not necessary to request the Court of Justice to give any ruling, because the Court's existing jurisprudence already provides sufficient answers”.

Huzar vs. Jet2 outcome and case significance

Wellentin-Hermann vs. Alitalia, Huzar vs. Jet2 and Dawson vs. Thomson Airways all provide guidance regarding cases involving technical faults and the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances but it is the Huzar vs. Jet2 ruling that has been established as the precedent for subsequent cases of a similar nature and will be binding if cited appropriately. All claims in England and Wales that are submitted in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004 must follow the decision that was made by Manchester Crown Court in October 2013.

By citing this Huzar vs. Jet2.com Limited, solicitors assigned to Flight Delay Claims 4 U cases have been able to argue that extraordinary circumstances cannot be blamed when the situation is deemed to be inherent and within the control of an airline. If both inherency and reasonable control are apparent, passengers will be entitled to compensation from the air carrier in question.

For a confidential chat, Call us FREE
FREEPHONE 0800 044 3766

You could win compensation too…

The Huzar vs. Jet2 court cases have settled many arguments over the liability of airlines when delays have been caused by technical problems.

Around 80% of flight delay claims are in relation to flight disruption that has been caused by a technical issue.

If you have suffered delays as a result of a technical problem, get in touch with Fight Delay Claims 4 U today and instantly find out if you are entitled to compensation. Our panel of specialist flight delay compensation solicitors are experienced in applying case law such as Huzar vs. Jet2.com and our knowledgeable claims advisors are able to handle every aspect of a claim on your behalf. Furthermore, we’ll provide all of this support on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis to ensure your that your claim is completely risk-free.