The Jerusalem Small Claims Court(1) and the Netanya Small Claims Court(2) both recently dismissed compensation claims for baggage delays, as the passengers did not comply with Article 31(2) of the Montreal Convention, according to which a complaint must be submitted within 21 days from the date of receipt of the baggage.
In Shimon Lahav v Brussels Airline the baggage belonging to passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv to the United States (via Brussels) was delayed by approximately two days.
The plaintiffs argued at the hearing that, due to lack of knowledge, they had approached their insurer on their return to Israel and had received the relevant documents two months' later. It was only then that the plaintiffs were advised to refer their complaint to the airline.
The court ruled that the claim was subject to the Montreal Convention and accepted the airline's argument that the passengers had submitted their complaint late and had thus breached Article 31(2) of the Montreal Convention.
The judge referred to a previous Tel Aviv District Court decision in which it was held that the requirement for a complaint in writing within the required period is strictly upheld.(3)
The judge also mentioned that he was aware of court decisions that took a more lenient approach towards cases in which written complaints were not submitted within the required time. However, in the case at hand, it was impossible to ignore the fact that the passengers provided a written complaint 69 days after the date of receipt of their baggage.
The claim was dismissed, but the court did not award expenses in favour of the airline company.
In Nir Yonani v Arkia Airlines the plaintiffs travelled to Cyprus for five days with their two daughters. On their arrival at Larnaca, one of the suitcases did not arrive. The plaintiffs were notified the next day that the baggage tag on the suitcase had fallen off and as a result the suitcase had not been loaded on-board the aircraft with the other suitcases. When the suitcase arrived at Larnaca a day later, the plaintiffs discovered that instead of the airline delivering the suitcase to them, as is customary, they had to travel to Larnaca by taxi to collect the suitcase, a trip which would have taken them almost four-and-a-half hours. At that point, the plaintiffs decided not to collect the suitcase, but to take delivery of it on their arrival back in Israel on April 15 2017.
On June 4 2017 the plaintiffs sent an email to the airline in which they demanded compensation. They received no response and had no choice but to file a court claim.
The airline argued that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any compensation, as they had failed to complain within 21 days as required by the Montreal Convention.
The airline also argued that the contract of carriage includes a reference to the Montreal Convention, which constitutes the contract between the parties.
The court stated that there was no dispute that the contract of carriage binds the parties, thus the court could not avoid the conclusion that the claim should be dismissed.
Despite the fact that the claim was dismissed, the judge did not accept the airline's conduct, which also ignored its previous offer to compensate the plaintiffs €150 and the fact that the plaintiffs had presented invoices for over €1,000 for items purchased for their daughters. In addition, the judge stated that as the airline had failed to deliver the suitcase to the plaintiffs in Cyprus, this constituted a breach of law and practice. The demand that the plaintiffs travelled at their own expense to Larnaca to pick up the suitcase was unfair and contrary to the law.
Although the claim was dismissed, the court ordered the airline to pay the plaintiffs NIS750 to cover their expenses. It also stated that:
- the plaintiffs had clearly approached the court in good faith and had been unaware that their complaint should have been submitted within 21 days; and
- the airline's conduct in this case had been inappropriate.
For further information on this topic please contact Peggy Sharon or Keren Marco at Levitan, Sharon & Co by telephone (+972 3 688 6768) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Levitan, Sharon & Co website can be accessed at www.israelinsurancelaw.com.
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