Skycop’s long-standing commitment to defending its customers’ right to compensation for a disrupted flight already boasts truly impressive results: this autumn we are about to reach our 500th victory in court.
Such a figure is more than gratifying to all of us, also because – since we started our operations more than four years ago – Skycop has already failed in court only once. And while millions of euros in disrupted flight compensations have already been paid to air passengers thanks to us, the rapidly growing number of customers and the airline’s significantly changing approach to consumer rights have consistently proven to us that we are moving in the right direction.
Of course, most of the individual cases Skycop has filed with the courts have gradually established the now obviously implicit view that our team is always ready to go all the way in defending customers’ right to compensation However, such approach has brought significant changes to passenger compensation practices across Europe. Not to mention that even the most stubborn air carriers have received enough lessons from the Skycop team and today are respecting air passenger rights much more consciously than ever before.
After lengthy legal disputes, in which we have finally won after months of fighting, the airlines now have to take responsibility for such situations, in which they have so far avoided most of the obligations laid down in Regulation (EC) 261/2004.
One of the best examples could be a situation when, at the beginning of the last year, after a Polish court ordered to pay the charter company SmartWings Poland nearly €70 000 in disrupted flight compensations for more than 160 passengers, the air carrier failed to avoid liability based on the fact that it operated only as charter airline – as well as because tickets for delayed flights were not sold directly but through an intermediary.
Also, thanks to Skycop, it has become much harder for non-EU registered airlines to avoid liability for flight disruptions they were responsible for. Last year, The Supreme Court of Lithuania upheld Skycop’s appeal regarding the case in which we fought for passengers’ right to compensation under Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004. We would not have had to go so far, however, the passengers in question took the connecting flight Vilnius-Kiev-New York, operated by Ukraine International, an airline which is registered outside the European Union.
Such appeal was challenging the decisions of the lower courts which had ruled that the action could not be decided in the courts of the Republic of Lithuania. The courts recognized the fact that the flight was delayed on the territory of Ukraine (Kiev) as an essential circumstance for the occurrence of the damage, and therefore the dispute regarding compensation for the delayed flight should be settled only in a Ukrainian court. Skycop challenged such court findings in an appeal in cassation submitted to The Supreme Court of Lithuania.
FInally, the court stated that the obligation for a passenger to sue in a foreign state restricts his ability to bring an action, as it may lead to unreasonable costs of such litigation, especially in cases of relatively small standard compensation. At the same time, the court drew attention to the principle of effectiveness in the application of national law, which means that a national rule should not make it impossible or excessively difficult to exercise the rights conferred by the EU law.
No less significant – for both air passengers all over Europe as well as our team – was Skycop’s victory over Ryanair back in December 2019. It wasn’t our only win over Europe’s airline giant as we have proven we are truly right in our pursuit of protecting air passengers all around the globe even more times since then – but this victory is still highly significant as it has established us as the ones whose voice should always be heard. It was then that it was stated that there had been a long-standing violation of consumer rights by the air carrier.
That’s because, in such events, where passengers faced a delayed, canceled or overbooked flight and subsequently tried to claim compensation from the company under an (EC) No. 261/2004 by transferring a claim to third parties (such as flight compensation companies), Ryanair refused to cooperate, arguing that transferring these claims to third parties is against the company’s Terms and Conditions of service. To such T&C every passenger had to agree before purchasing his flight tickets – in order to be able to book any trip with Ryanair.
The case was taken to court when the passengers who did not file claims directly to Ryanair and did not wait for 28 days for Ryanair’s response as prescribed by its rules were unfairly treated by the airline. They transferred their rights to the claim to Skycop which then filed a claim for compensation. Legally, Skycop became the owner of the claim. Ryanair refused to pay stating that the passengers had to file the claim directly and wait for 28 days, and could not assign their rights to compensation.
The court stated that Assignment agreements are valid and Ryanair may not prohibit passengers from assigning their rights to compensation if passengers believe that this way their rights will be exercised quicker and more conveniently. Restrictive Ryanair Terms and Conditions were considered unfair and null and void. Since then, it was stated that passengers may conclude Assignment agreements and do not need to file claims themselves.
And while these few examples illustrate the significant changes that Skycop has made by pursuing its aim all the way, we are still moving towards getting closer to our ultimate goal every day. And every new court ruling made in favour of air passengers whose rights we are standing for only reminds us that we must be no less persistent in what we are passionately seeking on a daily basis – the enforcement of air passenger rights all around the world.