The French Supreme Court decided that the time spent at the stop-over airport is a loss of time which should be compensated

Cour de cassation, Chambre civile 1, 16 avril 2015, 14-13.736, Inédit

The present case concerns the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and the air passengers right to compensation in case of delay.

X had a flight ticket from Marseille to Manchester with a stop in Paris. The first flight was delayed by 12 minutes. X did not arrive in time at the Paris stop-over airport and he had to wait 6 hours for the next flight. Finally, he arrived in Manchester at 19 o’clock instead of 13 o’clock, which represented 6 hours of delay compared to the initially previewed arrival. X seised the district court of Marseille (Juridiction de proximité de Marseille) which rejected the claim. The first instance judges found out that the first flight took only a 12-minutes delay, while Article 6 of the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 required a delay of 3 hours or more. X lodged an appeal in cassation.

In its ruling the Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) set aside the contested judgment and referred the case to another court for further examination.

According to the Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 applies also to flight with stopover(s). In fact, judges applied the EU Court of Justice case-law (Case C-11/11, Folkerts), in which the European judges interpreted the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and decided that the right to compensation applies when the departure of the first flight was delayed, but also when the passenger arrived at the final destination airport with a delay of 3 hours or more.

In the present case, the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) strictly applied this definition and brought its proper case-law in line with the ECJ jurisprudence. Consequently, the supreme judges decided that X had right to seek compensation as he arrived in Manchester with a 6-hours delay. In fact, the time spent at the stop-over airport in Paris was a loss of time which had to be compensated.

The full text is available on EuroCases

2 thoughts on “The French Supreme Court decided that the time spent at the stop-over airport is a loss of time which should be compensated

  1. Mark Walker

    It would be interesting to know how if at all the French Supreme Court went about distinguishing the judgment in ‘Emirates Airlines v Dieter Schenkel CJEU Case C-173/07′, which Airlines invariably rely on when arguing that connecting flights are to be looked at individually for the purposes of the Regulation.

    Did the Fr Supreme Court consider Schenkel to be confined to the narrow question of disaggregating the “outward” and “return” journeys, or did it distinguish Schenkel on the basis that it should only apply where the intermediate flight is from one non-EU airport to another with a non-EU carrier. A conundrum which desperately requires to be resolved given that on the face of it, in Folkerts the CJEU assessed compensation based on a final destination arrived at by way of a final connecting flight which, if looked at individually, could not have been a flight within scope of the Regulation given it was from one non-EU airport to another.

    My question is, how do the French Courts (and other national Courts for that matter) deal with the “Emirates issue”- ie Emirates’ flights out of Europe being routed through its Dubai hub, so they argue no compensation applies when a delay 3 hours?

    1. Blogeditor

      Hello Mr. Walker,

      The ’’Emirates Airlines’’ ruling (case C-173/07) that you cited concerns a journey (outward and return flight) and a non-EU flight provided by a non-EU airline company. It also clarifies the concept of “flight” and “final destination”.
      However, unlike the “Emirates Airlines’’ ruling, the analysed decision of the French Supreme Court concerns a purely EU flight (Marseille-Paris-Manchester) and it clarifies the calculation of the ”delay”. Therefore, the factual situation in this case is different from the ’’Emirates Airlines’’ ruling. For this reason, the French Supreme Court did not refer to it, but instead it decided to apply the ’’Folkerts’’ ruling (case C-11/11).
      But you are right that it would be interesting to know whether the French Supreme Court would grant compensation in a case concerning, for exemple, a one-way flight Dubai-Paris (3h delay)-Manchester. The Regulation (EC) 261/2004 aims to grant the same protection to EU and non-EU flights, of course, under some conditions. But it is up to the Supreme Court to decide.
      If you are interested to see how the Regulation (EC) 261/2004 is applied by EU national courts (notably in France, Germany and UK) you may search for national case-law on http://demo.eurocases.eu/Home

      Best regards

      The comments on this blog do not constitute a legal advice. It is just a personal opinion on the case.

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