The UK Supreme Court decided October 31 in the case “Jet2.com vs Ronald Huzar ” the question whether technical problems with aircraft constitutes extraordinary circumstances defending Airlines from passengers claims for flight delays.
Jet2.com vs Ronald Huzar regards an unexpected problem with an electrical wire in one of the fuel filters to one of the Aircraft engines. The fault was neither discovered nor discoverable by a reasonable regime of maintenance or on reasonable inspection and therefore was unforeseen and unforeseeable.
In the notable “Charlotta-case” in Attunda district Court of Stockholm regarding a Swedish family’s claim for flight delay compensation for a 12 hour delayed flight from Stockholm to Bangkok the Airline Norwegian has argued that the fuel leak in one of the wing tank doors was unpredicted and very unsuspected and therefore constituted extraordinary circumstances.
Trial is set for February 12 next year. Irrespective of the outcome the case will probably be appealed to Court of Appeals and from there to The Swedish Supreme Court. In order to save time and money for both parties and to establish proper law regarding the Huzar case in Sweden the family has asked the district Court to direct the following question to Supreme Court for their determination:
“Would a technical problem with an Aircraft which was neather discovered nor discovarable by a reasonable regime of maintenance or on reasonable inspection and therefore was unforeseen and unforeseeable constitute extraordinary circumstances according to EU Regulation 261/2004.”
If the Supreme Court would answer the question affirmative the Charlotta-case is decided and Airlines can no longer defend themselves with unexpected technical faults constituting extraordinary circumstances. If the Court instead would consider answering the question in the negative the Court is obliged to take the matter to the EU Court. This could lead to the EU Court revisiting the land mark Wallentin-Hermann case re Airlines liability for technical problems (Friederike Wallentin-Hermann vs Alitalia in the case C-549/07 from December 2008).
In order to take a legal question straight to Supreme Court the parties have to agree.
So question is will Norwegian be willing to contribute to this important matter of law beeing clarified?