Clydes and Covington fail to prevent airlines ECJ defeat

Clyde & Co and Covington & Burling suffered disappointment yesterday (10 January) as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against two major airline associations in a landmark case on passenger compensation.

Airlines will be liable for millions of pounds in compensation after the ECJ found that a European regulation was not in contravention of the Montréal Convention on airline liability.

The ruling was a blow for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), represented by Clyde partner John Balfour, and the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), represented by Covington Brussels partner Georg Berrisch.

The case was referred to the ECJ by the High Court in May 2004 after the regulation’s implementation. In September 2005 Advocate General Leendert Geelhoed handed down his opinion of the case, which the ECJ followed in making yesterday’s final ruling.

Balfour instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Mark Brealey QC. Monckton Chambers’ Christopher Vadja QC was instructed by Berrisch for ELFAA.

11 King’s Bench Walk’s Clive Lewis acted for the Department of Transport, submitting a written opinion supporting passengers’ rights