We are frequently asked “Why does litigation take so long and when will we receive our compensation?” We have therefore put together a guide to explain the process stage by stage.
All flight compensation claims are dealt with by the Small Claims Court provided:
- The amount claimed is for less than £10,000
- The delay or cancellation happened less than six years ago
In practical terms whilst the Statute of Limitation precludes claims of more than six years old it will be difficult to bring an action where the period is due to expire in a few weeks.
At Flight Delay Pay (FDP) we have a panel of solicitors who handle our correspondence with Airlines and any subsequent litigation with the Small Claims Court.
Our solicitors will issue a letter to the Airline called a “Letter before Action”
This letter sets out the legal basis for the claim for compensation under EU261/2004, the passengers names the flight details. The letter allows 30 days to investigate and respond. (the EU guideline recommends a response within 60 days!).
Once 30 days have elapsed our solicitors often send a reminder. FDP then instruct solicitors to litigate the case if we have not had a response or the reply is unsatisfactory.
Our solicitors complete an online form. This form includes -Details of the Claim – Amount Claimed – Particulars of Claim. FDP is able to issue all claims online which significantly speeds up the process as we issue in our own name.
A fee is then paid which for online cases is as follows:
Up to £300 £25
£301 to £500 £35
£501 to £1,000 £60
£1001 to £1,500 £70
£1,501 to £3,000 £105
£3001 to £5,000 £185
The claim is handled by the County Court Money Claims Centre.
The forms are lodged and stamped by the court. The court then serves the defendant being the Airline with a copy of the form. Note – We can only commence an action against an Airline through the County Court small claims procedure that has legal presence in the UK that means a place of work and an address. For passengers claiming against Airlines with no UK presence our solicitors will issue a claim under the European Small Claims Procedure.
Money Claims Online the procedure preferred by FDP and is the fastest method of obtaining legal redress. When this is used together with Legal Assignment it is the best method of handling Flight Compensation for many technical reasons but mainly so it allows the customer to get on with their life and let the professionals handle their claim.
Nigel Davidson Legal Counsel – Partner, Paul Davidson Taylor (PDT)
On average from the date of issue in the Small Claims Court it takes three months to settle a claim.
If the Airline decides not to defend the claim the court will make an order for payment in our favour. If the Airline does wish to defend the claim they will file an acknowledgment of Service indicating an intention to defend. The Court allows a further 14 days for the Airline to serve its legal defence. If the Airline does not respond then our solicitors are instructed to request judgement in default of a defence (asking the judge to find in our favour)
Once the defence document is received the court sends out a questionnaire to both parties regarding the action. This questionnaire must be completed by the deadline provided. The court then allocates the case to the Small Claims Track and a Notice of Allocation is sent to both parties. The court allocates the hearing to a court so as not to cause too much inconvenience to both sides. The notice also advises the date of the hearing and requires the parties to give what is called a “Disclosure” to the other side. This requires each party to provide to the other a list or copies of all documents in their possession or control which are relevant to the issues. The court also require each party to prepare and serve on each other witness statements. If no hearing date is shown then the court wishes to do the following:
- Deal with the case with the papers only
- Hold a preliminary hearing if the claim requires special directions or the judge feels one side has little chance of success.
Prepare the case for the hearing by marshalling all papers and legal arguments including past cases.
The Hearing – this is held in public. FDPs solicitor will have lodged in advance a skeleton argument explaining the facts in the case and why under law the passengers are due compensation. FDP’s solicitor will also have arranged for its witnesses to attend court to confirm the contents of the witness statement and to answer any questions. In most cases a witness statement is not required. If found in our favour the Judge will instruct the Airline to settle our claim.
If the Airline does not settle our solicitors then instruct High Court bailiffs to ensure a payment is made.
FDP pays its client on the same day it receives funds
We win 95% of all cases we take to court. We do this on a No Win No Fee basis. FDP are happy to manage the litigation process on behalf of clients. We do this in our own name so that our clients in most cases need not attend court and are not exposed to a costs risk. We achieve this by a Legal Assignment that transfers the right in the claim to FDP. By transferring the claim we can take action in our own name. Once we win we transfer the balance of any settlement to our clients less our fees.
We have an exclusive arrangement with our solicitors which provides access to the leading Flight Compensation counsel. We hope this article helps explain the complex process and allows you to understand why claims can take several months to settle.
We recommend Legal Assignment to our clients so we can handle their claims whilst they get on with their lives!