The innovative and award-winning flight compensation practice set up by Cheshire firm Bott & Co has just concluded its 1,000th claim against airlines.
The firm, which only launched the practice in February, has recovered over €1m (£825,000) from 36 different airlines for 2,100 passengers on delayed and cancelled flights.
Passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed by over three hours, or are denied boarding, are entitled to compensation of up to €600 under EU Regulation 261/2004.
Bott & Co said it has settled cases within five days and from flights dating as far back as October 2007. Of the 1,000 claims, the firm had to issue proceedings in the small claims court 318 times.
It provides a tool on its website so passengers can assess whether they have a claim and offers a free claim letter to send to airlines. But for those who do not want to deal with it personally, or are having trouble with their airlines, Bott & Co will handle it under a conditional fee agreement, taking 27% of the final award. It will take over cases part-way through.
Bott & Co said it has access to “an unrivalled wealth of historical flight data and technical expertise” provided by partner EUclaim – which runs a similar service in the Netherlands – allowing them to put together detailed weather reports and reports to combat airlines’ arguments.
Bott & Co senior partner David Bott said the idea for the practice came from a solicitor at the firm who tried to bring a claim himself and received a 12-page letter in response from the airline. “The odds are stacked quite heavily against the individual,” he explained.
The main difficulty is that the delay has to be for a reason that is “not extraordinary” – though this is narrowly defined, Mr Bott said airlines tried to make it as wide as they could.
The key to making the practice work is volume and a “really good front end” that enables the firm to sort the wheat from the chaff. “We’ve decided to make an investment in this,” Mr Bott said. “Other firms will struggle to pick the good claims from the bad very early on.”
Mr Bott – a former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers – said he had also learned lessons from the way the practice operates should the small claims limit for personal injury ever go up.
Managing partner Paul Hinchliffe added: “We will continue to battle until airlines recognise their legal obligations. The regulations are clear and if the airlines pay consumers when they should, then it won’t be necessary to involve a law firm.”