In the second victory for Cheshire law firm Bott & Co in a week, appeal judges have ruled that the normal limitation period of six years applies to airline passengers wanting to bring compensation claims for delayed flights.
Thomson Airways argued that the Montreal Convention should apply, which has a limitation period of only two years.
Last week Bott & Co, which has won awards for its specialist flight compensation work, said it had opened the way for “millions” more claims by securing a Court of Appeal ruling allowing claims resulting from technical problems in the Jet2.com case.
The firm estimated that the second ruling would have had an impact on over 11m passengers, who could potentially claim more than £4bn in compensation.
Unlike the first case, which involved a delay of 27 hours on a flight between Malaga and Manchester, the second involved a delay of over six hours on a service between Gatwick and the Dominican Republic.
The court heard that departure was delayed by “crew shortages caused by sickness”. James Dawson sought to recover €600 per person from Thomson Airways which, under EC Regulation 261/2004, is payable as compensation.
He began the proceedings just before the six-year limitation period expired, under section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980. Mr Dawson was awarded just under £1,500 by Cambridge County Court.
Giving the leading judgment in Dawson v Thompson Airways  EWCA Civ 845, Lord Justice Moore-Bick said the Court of Appeal was “bound to follow and apply” the decisions of the European Court of Justice, which had ruled that the obligation in question lay “outside the scope of the convention”.
He said it was not “helpful to embark on a discussion of the doctrine of precedent” as it applied in the context of the conflicting decisions of the House of Lords. He dismissed the appeal. Lord Justices Kitchin and Fulford agreed.
David Bott, senior partner at Bott & Co, commented: “This has been a great week for air passengers’ rights and we are delighted to have been involved in two huge victories for consumers. It has been superb to take these two issues to the Court of Appeal and clarify regulations that fundamentally affect hundreds of thousands of people on a yearly basis.”