BA counsel goes before the Lords to defend DVT claims

British Airways (BA) general counsel Robert Webb QC was in the House of Lords earlier this month to defend the airline’s record on deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Webb appeared in response to an appeal from a group of claimants who allege that they suffered DVT after travelling on BA flights. He was instructed by Sean Gates of aviation boutique Gates and Partners.

China Airlines was also a respondent and instructed Clyde & Co and Quadrant Chambers’ Robert Lawson. Both airlines waived any recovery of costs should they lose the case in order for the appeal to take place.

Prior to joining BA in 1998, Webb was head of chambers at the now defunct aviation set 5 Bell Yard.

The eight passengers were appealing a July 2003 judgment from the Court of Appeal, which found that the airlines had not caused an “accident”, as defined by the Warsaw Convention, by which they could be held liable for cases of DVT.

In July 2004 the Lords granted permission to appeal and the case was heard on 19 and 20 October.

If successful, the claimants could elicit millions of pounds in compensation from the airlines.

Transport litigation boutique Collins Solicitors, led by Des Collins, acted for the claimants, instructing 2-3 Gray’s Inn Square co-head Anthony Scrivener QC.