Here’s a novel way to collect compensation from an airline.
One thing I’ve learned about the law is this: enforcement is often no easy feat. Think about it. EU law, for example, states that passengers are due compensation for delayed or cancelled flights (EU261). But what if an airline won’t pay? Is a passenger going to take an airline to court over a few hundred GBP or EUR? And when that occurs and the passenger wins, who will enforce judgment? What if a passenger shows up at the airport to collect her check? What is she going to do if the airline says, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you?”
According to the BBC, EasyJet and TUI Airways are two of the worst offending air carriers in this matter. Judgements against them average 20 per day and both carriers drag their feet in settling claims with customers.
The Solution: Bailiffs
Bailiffs are arriving at the offices of leading UK airlines, and staff are paying on-the-spot with debit and credit cards…
If staff fail to pay up the bailiffs can remove and sell their office equipment and furniture.
In one case, bailiffs boarded a plane belonging to a small European airline and prevented it from taking off until the owners paid up.
These are provided by “no win, no fee” legal practices like Bott & Co. For a portion of your compensation, they will collect for you…even sending a bailiff if necessary.
Bailiffs are always a last resort, but an increasingly common one when:
The airlines ignore solicitors who present a formal letter for compensation, then ignore the court proceedings and finally they ignore the judgement against them as well.
That’s Coby Benson, a solicitor at Bott & Co, speaking to the BBC.
Bailiffs are not a new phenomenon: they’ve been used for hundreds of years to collect judgments.
Can you imagine a bailiff boarding a SWISS 777 at LAX?
Airlines are not happy about this. Often, and unsurprisingly, they feel they are the victims. TUI Airways told the BBC:
We’re extremely concerned and disappointed by the volume of these judgements.
No kidding! Here’s a thought: operate on time and you won’t have to worry about this.
Historically, we have chosen not to defend all EU261 County Court cases in certain circumstances. We have recently reviewed that approach and this is no longer the case.
That’s the flipside to this issue. Airlines do not have the resources to fight every compensation battle in court. That routinely leads to default judgments in favor of the consumer. As we have seen, that doesn’t mean an airline will send a check without further badgering. But at least passengers have a tool in their pocket to collect: bailiffs.