Jurisdiction for flight delay claims—whether under Montreal Convention or Regulation 261 (Adriano Guaitoli v EasyJet)

12 Dec 2019

Dispute Resolution analysis: This analysis summarises and explores the practical implications of Adriano Guaitoli and others v easyJet in which the Court of Justice considered which jurisdictional rules applied to claims based on both EU Regulations and the Montreal Convention. In brief, the Court of Justice concluded that the jurisdiction of each element of the claim is to be determined separately, in accordance with different jurisdictional rules. In practice, it will be important to identify whether the rules of jurisdiction conflict and, if so, to consider whether the claims instead should be brought separately to avoid delay caused by challenges to jurisdiction.

Adriano Guaitoli and others v Easyjet Case C213/18

What are the practical implications of this case?

If a flight delay claim seeks relief under both Regulation (EC) 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flight and the Montreal Convention (the Convention), each element of the claim will be treated separately for the purposes of jurisdiction:

  • • the jurisdiction for the Regulation (EC) 261/2004 element of the claim will be determined in accordance with Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast) and
  • the jurisdiction for the Convention element of the claim will be determined in accordance with Article 33 of the Convention

There are two key differences between the jurisdictional rules above in their application to flight delay cases:

  • place of departure—while both sets of rules give jurisdiction to the courts of the carrier’s principal place of business and the place of destination, Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast) also gives jurisdiction to the courts of the place of departure
  • intra-state jurisdiction—unlike Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast) the Article 33 of the Convention does not merely determine the state in which the claim must be brought, but which court within that state in which the claim may be brought

In order to avoid challenges to flight delay claims based on jurisdiction, it will be necessary to check both rules of jurisdiction in case there is conflict between them. If there is, then it may be prudent to separate the claim into two actions in different courts.

What was the background?

Mr Guaitoli (along with the other claimants) had booked flights with easyJet between Rome Fiumicino (Italy) and Corfu (Greece).

The outward flight was scheduled to depart on 4 August 2015 but was cancelled and postponed to the following day. The return flight was scheduled to depart on 14 August 2015 but was delayed between two and three hours.

On 28 June 2016, Mr Guaitoli brought an action before the Tribunale ordinario di Roma (Rome District Court, Italy). The claim sought:

  • • compensation pursuant to Articles 5, 7 and 19 of Regulation (EC) 261/2004, and
  • compensation for further damage caused by the delay pursuant to Article 19 of the Convention

EasyJet disputed the court’s jurisdiction, contending that, under national procedural rules, the dispute fell within the jurisdiction of the Tribunale di Civitavecchia (Civitavecchia Court, Italy).

The Tribunale ordinario di Roma sought a preliminary reference from the Court of Justice. It noted that it would only have jurisdiction if—(i) jurisdiction was determined by Article 33 of the Convention, and (ii) Article 33 only designated which state party had jurisdiction (and not which court within that state).

What did the court decide?

The Court of Justice (First Chamber) approached the case from the position that Mr Guaitoli’s action effectively consisted of two claims brought under two distinct regulatory regimes, namely Regulation (EC) 261/2004 and the Convention. On that basis, it considered that each ‘claim’ should be dealt with separately and in accordance with the respective regimes.

As to the claim for compensation under Regulation (EC) 261/2004 , the Court of Justice held that jurisdiction was to be determined in accordance with the Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast). Under the regulation , the courts of the place in which the defendant is domiciled (Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast)) and the places in which the flight departed and arrived (Article 7(1) of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast)) will have jurisdiction.

As to claim for compensation under the Convention, jurisdiction is governed by Article 33(1) of the convention that Article provides that a claimant may bring an action in the courts of the domicile of the carrier, of its principal place of business, of its place of business through which the contract has been made, or of the place of destination.

The Court of Justice noted that Articles 67 and 71 of Regulation (EU) 1215/2012, Brussels I (recast)) allow for the application of rules of jurisdiction relating to specific matters, which includes the rules contained in the Convention.

Further, the Court of Justice held that Article 33(1) of the Convention does not only allocate the jurisdiction as between the states which are party thereto, but also the territorial jurisdiction as between the courts of each state. The court relied on the wording of the provision and the need for the Convention to give legal certainty.

Case details

  • Court: Court of Justice (First Chamber)
  • Judge: J C Bonichot, M. Safjan, L Bay Larsen
  • Date of judgment: 07/11/2019

This article was first published by Lexis®PSL on 18/11/2019. 


Emily Betts

Call: 2009

Joshua Griffin

Call: 2018


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