Ryanair received a maximum possible 5 000 EUR fine from the Lithuanian Court for inappropriate behavior during the court proceedings.
Ryanair came under fire after the company’s terms and conditions were amended and outlined that passengers must file direct claims for compensations for delayed, cancelled and overbooked flights and wait for 28 days for Ryanair’s response. It means that passengers may not ask a lawyer to file a claim on their behalf and may not also use the services of claim companies such as Skycop.
Passengers, together with Skycop, believe that such terms fall within the category of terms which have the object of excluding the consumer’s right to take legal action. They filed a claim to the court and asked to recognize these terms and conditions as unfair in so far as it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations, to the detriment of the consumer.
The Court proceedings last almost a year already and largely because of Ryanair’s inappropriate behavior and misuse of its procedural rights during the court proceedings.
“Such fines are issued in exceptional cases only. Ryanair disrespected not only the passengers but also the Court. We hope that the issued fine will bring such practices to an end. Such misuse of its rights, disrespectful and unfair behavior towards passengers should not be tolerated” – says attorney Nerijus Zaleckas, representing the passengers and Skycop.
It all started when during the several months of court hearings Ryanair a couple of times changed its mind regarding applicable law to its terms and conditions. However, for almost five months since the last change, it neither provided its arguments nor reacted to Court’s requests to provide explanations on this issue.
Moreover, Ryanair and its representative ignored the court hearing where the parties of the case had to present their explanations regarding the applicable law. And then once again changed its mind and claimed that under its terms and conditions Irish courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case and the case shall be dismissed.
Based on the numerous court rulings of the Lithuanian Supreme Court and European Court of Justice, the Lithuanian court dismissed this statement. The Court once more confirmed that a term of this kind falls within the category of terms which have the object or effect of hindering the consumer’s right to take legal action, and must be regarded as unfair.
“Moreover, they provided misleading statements regarding the Dutch court ruling issued in August, where the Dutch court already recognized that Ryanair terms and conditions obliging the passenger to file claims directly and wait for 28 days for Ryanair’s response are unfair,” says the attorney.
Lithuanian court added that Ryanair is clearly misusing its procedural rights by unfairly seeking to delay court proceedings and, in such a way, restricting as many passengers as possible to potentially exercise their rights to receive compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004.
For such behavior, Ryanair is fined and shall pay 5 000 EUR, half of which shall be paid to Skycop and passengers, and the other half to the state.