Landing in court with Ryanair (what you need to know about airlines and ADR too!)

The problems with Ryanair and compensation and ADR

Update 05 December 2018

The BBC reports Ryanair compensation claims to go to court

“The Civil Aviation Authority has said it is taking legal action against Ryanair over its refusal to compensate thousands of UK-based customers.

Their flights were cancelled or delayed over the summer because of strikes by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew.

The CAA says they are entitled to compensation under EU law.

However, Ryanair argues the strike action amounts to “extraordinary circumstances” and that therefore, it does not have to pay.”

“Ryanair has now told the CAA that it has terminated its agreement with ADR.

“As a result of Ryanair’s action, passengers with an existing claim will now have to await the outcome of the Civil Aviation Authority’s enforcement action,” the CAA said.”

Summer of 2018 sees Ryanair, CAA and AviationADR in a flying shame of failures.

Ryanair aeroplane in sky

Ryanair failures

The Summer of 2018, like the Summer before, has seen Ryanair failing passengers trying to get to weddings, funerals, business meetings and, of course, holidays. This year, it seems that Ryanair is even trying to beat last year’s number of cancellations.

In 2015 the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) launched enforcement action against Ryanair. This action followed a review by the regulator that found Ryanair was not complying fully with European consumer law designed to support passengers following flight disruption. Ryanair was required to make policy changes or face the prospect of further enforcement steps leading to court action, if the airline remained non-compliant. Whilst it may have made policy changes “on paper” it appears to continue to flaunt them.

In 2017 the CAA launched enforcement action against Ryanair for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations. This was after Ryanair repeatedly said it would not offer compensation for cancelled flights. The same is happening again, and although the CAA has issued a statement saying that Ryanair should be paying compensation, it has so far fallen short of taking enforcement action.

AviationADR failures

 

There are six different schemes authorised by the CAA to deal with airline complaints.  AviationADR and CEDR are the two main alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers. AviationADR is the provider for Ryanair. So, those passengers not getting any joy from Ryanair could take their case to AviationADR. However…..

Which? articles

Earlier in the year Which? attempted to obtain the data on the number of complaints resolved by AviationADR and CEDR through a Freedom of Information Act request to the CAA. I requested the quarterly reports and was also refused. However, my FoI Internal Review request on this decision was successful. Which? reported Fewer than 500 Ryanair passengers awarded compensation by complaints body in 2017.

“AviationADR received over 3,600 EU261 complaints about Ryanair in 2017. Only 496 passengers were awarded compensation. The vast majority of complaints were still outstanding at the end of year. In the first quarter of 2018 AviationADR received over 2,400 flight delay and cancellation complaints about Ryanair. In this time 282 passengers were awarded compensation and 98 were told they were entitled to nothing, leaving thousands still waiting for a decision.

For the first quarter of 2018 the figures are even worse. AviationADR received over 2,400 flight delay and cancellation complaints about Ryanair. In the same period just 282 passengers were awarded compensation and 98 were told they were entitled to nothing, meaning thousands were still waiting for a decision.”

In addition, “Aviation ADR said that a ‘very large’ number of the remaining complaints were ‘put on hold’ because they had been submitted by claims-management companies, who are in dispute with Ryanair. It said: ‘Given the ongoing litigation between (claims solicitor) Bott & Co and Ryanair… the claims management companies have agreed that these claims should be put on hold pending the final outcome of the court case.’

Bott & Co doesn’t accept that it has ‘agreed’ that the claims should be put on hold. It says, ‘we felt that the claims should be looked at, however Aviation ADR have currently refused to do so, because Ryanair won’t deal with claims presented by solicitors.’ It confirmed that it had made about 100 claims through Aviation ADR in 2017, ‘but we never got a response on any of them.’ It also said that it had another 10,000 complaints it had been planning to send, ‘but they told us to wait because they wouldn’t consider the claims whilst Bott & Co v Ryanair was ongoing.’

Which? has previously raised concerns about AviationADR in Passengers still having to fight for flight delay compensation and was referenced in the Financial Times article Got the Ryanair blues? This is how to claim compensation. The Financial Times also published Complaints put consumer watchdogs on watch which covered issues with RetailAdr.

This article outlined that The Retail Ombudsman (Details of reasons for the name change from TRO to various others can be found at The Retail Ombudsman is no more) was:

  • Committing an offence by even calling itself an ombudsman.
  • Wrongly implied in its 2015 annual report that Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as many other retailers, were members of its ADR scheme.
  • Allowed to call itself an ombudsman for more than a year by the Ombudsman Association (OA) before investigating. THE OA later issued a statement that The Retail Ombudsman ‘did not meet the OA’s membership criteria for independence, fairness, effectiveness, openness and transparency, and accountability’.

The Independent article

The Independent reported on AviationADR where a wrong decision had been made advising a passenger to claim against the airline with which she flew when Ryanair cancelled her flight. Not only that, it incorrectly advised her to claim against that airline, rather than against Ryanair! The airline was also an AviationADR member, so it would have been paid twice for essentially the same complaint!

Omnishambles reports

The two reports I co-authored with Marcus Williamson, ceoemail.com Editor, on the oversight of Ombudsmen and ADR providers, Ombudsman Omnishambles (OO) and More Ombudsman Omnishambles (MOO), heavily criticised the approval of Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited (CDRL), the company that runs the AviationADR scheme.

Delays in payment

Air India customer, Mukhtiar, is having problems getting the airline to pay the compensation he is owed.  He was told on 21 February 2018 that AviationADR had ordered Air India to pay up on his case but he’s still yet to receive anything. On the 26 June 2018 Mukhtiar asked AviationADR for an update. AviationADR said “I can confirm however that we are seeking further assistance from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) regarding this matter.” This begs the question: if AviationADR has to refer to the CAA for an issue of non-payment, just how effective is it? Six months later, as of 20 August 2018, Mukhtiar still does not have his money.

A spokesperson for the CAA said:

“The CAA maintains a regular dialogue with the UK ADR providers and is aware of only a relatively small number of cases of late payment of awards. The CAA itself receives a handful of complaints from consumers about late payment of awards. In the CAA’s view, this does not indicate that there is a systematic issue with the timeliness of the payment of awards resulting from ADR decisions. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

AirIndia has also now terminated it’s contract with AviationADR.

Ryanair comment regarding ADR

Ryanair was asked for the number of customers who have been paid out through AviationADR decisions and how many where the customer has come direct and Ryanair has made a decision in the customer’s favour. It was also asked how many cases for compensation it received in 2017and how many of those it awarded compensation and how many went to ADR. Ryanair said “We don’t break down our data on claims to that extent.”

Strike action

As regards the strike action, a spokesperson from Ryanair said “With regards to EU261 compensation for cancellations arising from strikes, our position has not changed: “Ryanair complies fully with EU261 legislation, under which no compensation is payable to customers when the (strike) delay/cancellation is beyond the airline’s control. If these strikes, by a tiny minority of Ryanair pilots, were within Ryanair’s control, there would have been no strikes and no cancellations.”

When asked for a comment regarding the strikes by cabin crew Ryanair refused to provide a comment.

The European Court of Justice ruled in the case of Helga Krüsemann and Others v TUIfly GmbH case, that a strike by the company’s employees are not “extraordinary circumstances”.

CAA monitoring of ADR schemes

A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority said:  “The ADR Regulations, which set out the rules to which approved ADR bodies must adhere, specifies that ADR providers must reach their decisions within 90 days from the receipt of the complete case file – and to report each year on the average time taken to resolve complaints. For the year up to March 2018, the two ADR providers reported an average time of 65 days to reach a decision, well below the 90 day threshold. We are aware that a small number of complaints do exceed the 90 day threshold, and indeed we receive a handful of complaints ourselves from consumers who have experienced a delay in their complaint being decided. We will continue to monitor this issue and to work with the ADR providers to ensure that complaints are dealt with in a timely manner.”

It is important to note, “90 days from the receipt of the complete case file”. This means that an airline could hold up the case indefinitely by never sending required documents! As far as the CAA is concerned the providers are doing ok even if an airline takes 5 months to send information!

A spokesperson for the CAA said:

“The CAA maintains a regular dialogue with the UK ADR providers and is aware of only a relatively small number of cases go over the 90 day time limit. The CAA itself receives a handful of complaints from consumers about the timeliness of ADR decision making. In the CAA’s view, this does not indicate that there is a systematic issue with the timeliness of ADR decision making. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Trying to gain examples of monitoring has proven difficult. The CAA has been given copies of both the OO and MOO report and is aware of the OA and Which? criticism but has continued to approve AviationADR.

In February of this year the CAA said that  the average rate for consumer complaints being upheld by CEDR was 89% and for AviationADR  71%

If you have used ADR and not been paid out, contact the CAA  CEO.

What if you do not want to use AviationADR?

Having read the articles and documents you may not want to use AviationADR, so what do you do?

Do you need to show you have used ADR before you can go to court?

The Pre-Action Conduct guide, published by the Department of Justice, explains the conduct and steps courts would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings for particular types of civil claims.

This conduct states that litigation should be a last resort. The defendant and complainant should consider whether negotiation or ADR might enable them to settle their dispute without commencing proceedings. They should consider the possibility of reaching a settlement at all times throughout the process.

The court may decide that one or more parties (claimant or defendant) has failed to comply if s/he has unreasonably refused to use a form of ADR, or failed to respond to an invitation to do so.

If there has been a non-compliance that is not materially important then there’s no need for the court to do anything. But if there has been a non-compliance the court could pause or stop the proceedings until the party fulfils its duty under the pre-action conduct/practice direction. It is possible that if a claimant hasn’t tried ADR, the court could stop the case proceeding any further until the parties have used an ADR provider. The court could also apply sanctions.

The sanctions that could be applied (for any non-compliance with the protocol) cover the financial implications. The party at fault for non-compliance may have to pay the cost of proceedings, or part of the cost to the other party. This could be on an indemnity basis (which means that it might not be proportionate). If the claimant has been awarded money s/he may be awarded less interest than otherwise may have been the case. (If the defendant is at fault, s/he may be awarded a higher rate

I am not aware of any cases where someone has received sanctions as described above for not undertaking ADR. I would think the suitability of the ADR provider could provide grounds for your refusing to use that route.

Don’t be tempted into using a claims company either. they aren’t going to be able to do anything you can’t. See ECJ ruling on flight delays: Consumer champion warns against third-party claim firms

Possible reasons for putting forward the case not to use ADR

The wording in the protocol clearly states that ADR should be considered. It does not say it must be taken. The Which? articles, the article in The Independent and the two reports go into a lot of detail about failures, delays in dealing with complaints, mistakes etc. It should be easily possible to argue that you have considered ADR in this case but for the following reasons:

1)    Details of the Which? articles

2)    Details of The Independent article

3)    The points from OO report that relate to AviationADR (The Retail Ombudsman/CDRL)

4)    The summary of the financial history of Dean Dunham’s companies provided in the MOO report

5)    The list of points in the MOO report which relate to AviationADR

6)    The minutes from the Ombudsman Association (reproduced in the MOO report) that show that CDRL lack the credentials to provide quality ADR.

7)    Examples of AviationADR not enforcing decisions to make airlines pay. Small claims court process made simple gives you an outline of what you need to know about the process.

I am not a lawyer and do not give legal advice. I give help and guidance and the above is just my opinion. However, I believe a court will understand if you feel that AviationADR would be unable to deal with your case satisfactorily, given the background information shown here!

Westminster Business Forum seminar Next steps for consumer protection in the UK – dispute processes, enforcement and the consumer markets green paper. 15/11/18 Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest possible sense of the words…

Alternative Dispute Resolution – approval and oversight in the loosest sense of the words…

Look East interviews Ryanair CCO and Helen Dewdney

LookEast Evening and Late News 23/08/18. Two interviews with me regarding the current situation and one with the Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer David O’Brien. Looks at strikes, rights, bounced cheques and baggage issues.

Look East interviews Ryanair CCO and Helen Dewdney

Further advice and help regarding flights and holiday complaints

What to do when your flight is delayed or cancelled – the full guide

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"

 

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

 

 

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

For templates, information, advice, tips and consumer rights for a variety of sectors GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Ryanair flies into oblivion

Ryanair strikes 2107 and what you need to know

In the latest apparent “Let’s treat customers as badly as possible” Ryanair business plan, it has decided to cancel 40-50 flights a day from its schedule of over 2,500 flights for  six weeks to the end of October. This is caused by incredibly bad management of staff leave. Not only that, it is so poor that they aren’t even managing the cancellation properly. Giving people little to no notice.

Ryanair’s Facebook and Twitter feed provides little information and people are flocking to share their outrage at the appalling management of the whole situation.

What the Ryanair pilots say about the strikes

I was on Radio 5 this morning and there were a few calls from Ryanair pilots who wanted to understandably remain anonymous. They were saying that Ryanair pay poorly and whilst they recognise that pilots are well paid, it is below the industry average. They also have to pay for their own accommodation and training and so staff turnover is high. A pilot for Jet2 said that Ryanair pilots are always leaving and joining them. Pilots are limited to the hours they can fly a year So the problem is not only that Ryanair has mismanaged the leave, it would also appear that it is because they treat their staff badly they get fed up and quit. Of course, if Ryanair paid better, the cost of the flights would go up? Maybe it is something it needs to look at if it is to survive.

On the news this evening (18/09/17) pilots were saying could happen again next year. (I won’t be flying Ryanair, I use them all the time, I won’t be now!) Update – they were correct, in fact the situation was even worse in 2018 See Landing in court with Ryanair (what you need to know about airlines and ADR too!)

Ryanair not informing you of your rights

But, not only is Ryanair not providing information about cancelled flights quickly enough, it also isn’t giving people their legal rights, most importantly the significant compensation that people are due. Just like BA powercut debacle: Airline keeps passengers in the dark about their rights update 18/09/17 CEO has said will pay EU compensation.

Ryanair has now released a list up to 28th October. Still no mention of applying for compensation on there!

What Ryanair should be doing to avert strikes

Ryanair should be trying to get you onto another flight, even if that is with another carrier and must pay you compensation. Airline template and information for all the details. You can use their form but you could write, adapting the letter for your circumstances and the costs that you incurred and give a deadline for payment as they will have a huge rise in claims at the moment methinks!

If the flight is more than 14 days away then you will not get the compensation.

You are entitled to the compensation (details in link above) unless you are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival”.

If Ryanair has left you stranded you are entitled to the hotel and refreshment/food costs until they can get you onto another flight. You must keep these reasonable though and I would advise you keep evidence of searches to find low cost accommodation etc.

Consequential losses and your entitlement to redress

If you have booked a hotel and other things, Ryanair is saying that it will not pay and you may be able to claim on insurance. Again, I’d like to see this tested in court. It is Ryanair’s fault and I don’t see why the insurance companies should pay which will ultimately put our premiums up!

The EU laws don’t cover consequential losses. However domestic law may, but because Ryanair is based in Ireland you would need to sue through the Irish courts. You should be able to get advice from the UK European Consumer Centre. (Court action may mean having to pay Ryanair costs so take advice).

The Association of British Insurers is urging travellers affected by Ryanair cancellations to contact the airline in the first instance to seek replacement flights and compensation. Mark Shepherd, head of property, commercial and specialist lines at the ABI, said:

“Ryanair has admitted it is to blame for the large number of flights currently being cancelled. Travellers affected will be understandably upset and have every right to expect help and support from the airline, whether that is alternative flights with a different carrier or compensation for the disruption suffered and other expenses incurred. If passengers are experiencing additional costs which for some reason Ryanair is refusing to cover they may be able to make claims on a travel insurance policy, but this may depend on the level of cover they bought. Clearly the first port of call must be Ryanair itself.”

Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force to cover airlines October 1st 2016 but it is such a new law that it’s largely untested and will be until we get a definitive judge-lead ruling. So given the lack of confidence in the airline ADR provider (as highlighted recently on BBC Watchdog) which lost its previous ombudsman title, in circumstances which remain unclear, The Retail Ombudsman is no more the consumer really has 2 realistic routes, that’s to go direct to the airline setting out that there has been a breach and the losses and if there is no remedy there it’s on to court for a ruling on both the CRA and contract breach. I think Ryanair will settle they wouldn’t want to risk it. So write to the airline detailing your case I think you’ll find that they will pay out just as BA did with their fiasco in May.

The UK EU Consumer Centres says “Consumers may be able to pursue the airlines under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) as the company should perform a service with reasonable care and skill. Also, another instrument that passengers may be able to use is the Montreal Convention.” The CAA has been looking at how the CRA will work with the Montreal Convention as it is very complicated regarding what and when you are covered as the MC applies once in the sky and over rules anything else. It is far from clear cut!

However, request it as advised in the post and if you follow the tips you’ll get it as people are.

Package holidays and Ryanair

If you have booked a package holiday through a travel company which has put you on a Ryanair flight, it is responsible for getting you to your destination. It, should also be informing you of any issues with your flight. If not, it has not been providing services with reasonable skill and care which is a breach of  the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and also Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. Regulations 12 and 13 refer to alterations in the package holiday or to departure times or location. Update from June 2018 Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018

Getting another flight when Ryanair let you down

You are entitled under EU rules to “rerouting, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity”. Unfortunately what exactly “the earliest opportunity” means has not been properly tested and defined in court. Yet.

Ryanair in their continuing poor customer care are telling passengers that hey may have to wait three days or more before they can be flown to their destination. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that airlines are obliged to book you on a rival airline “where there is a significant d

ifference in the time that a reroute can be offered on the airline’s own services”. The CAA does not define “significant” Different airlines have different rules regarding what they think is “significant”. However, whether they are legal remains to be seen, so if you get another flight at two days and Ryanair don’t pay then please do take them to court and let me know about it!

Ryanair and accountability

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the enforcement body for upholding the consumer rights of air passengers, and so it is able to take action against any airline that operates out of the UK, regardless of nationality. (It does not, however, regulate Ryanair from a safety perspective, this is done by the Irish Aviation Authority.   My investigation into airlines charging to sit children with an adult Plane greedy – Are airlines holding families to ransom? uncovered that Ryanair are making a mandatory charge to sit a child with an adult in the group. The CAA categorically stated that the airline should not charge but would not do anything about it because Ryanair is based in Ireland and t

he IAA have refused point blank to comment. So I don’t hold out much hope here.)

Update – 27th September 2017  CAA has  launched enforcement action against Ryanair for persistently misleading passengers with inaccurate information regarding their rights in respect of its recent cancellations.

Ryanair has previous

Just to show that the CAA can take action when it wants to do so, this from September 2015 on the CAA website:

As part of its on-going campaign to safeguard the rights of UK air passengers, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched enforcement action against Ryanair. This action follows a review by the regulator that found Ryanair is not complying fully with European consumer law designed to support passengers following flight disruption. Ryanair is now required to make policy changes or face the prospect of further enforcement steps leading to court action, if the airline remains non-compliant.

Contact details for Ryanair COO here.

Ryanair price hikes

 

Look East interviews Ryanair CCO and Helen Dewdney

 

Further help for complaining about holidays and flights

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for masses of info about booking/taking holidays and flights.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for information, advice, laws and template letters.