On 7 November 2019, the European Court of Justice published its judgement in Case C‑213/18, Adriano Guaitoli and others v easyJet Airline Co. Ltd, on the interpretation of Article 33 of the Montreal Convention, of Regulation 261/2004 and of Regulation 1215/2012. The request for preliminary interpretation had been made in proceedings between a number of natural persons and easyJet Airline Co. Ltd (“easyJet”) concerning claims for compensation for damage resulting from the cancellation of a flight and the delay of another flight.
The plaintiffs had concluded air transport contracts with easyJet for a one-way flight from Rome (Italy) to Corfu (Greece), and a return flight from Corfu to Rome. The outward flight had been delayed and eventually cancelled and postponed to the next day. Despite a formal request to easyJet, the plaintiffs were not offered any form of assistance (boarding another flight of another airline, offering of a meal or snack), compensation or reimbursement. In addition, the return flight had in turn been delayed by more than 2 hours (and less than 3). The plaintiffs then brought an action before the Tribunale Ordinario di Roma (Rome Ordinary Court; the “referring court”), which, in light of the need to interpret European legislation and the Montreal Convention, stayed the proceedings and referred two questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
By its first question, the referring court asked whether Article 33 of the Montreal Convention must apply if a party, whose flight has been delayed or cancelled, jointly claims not only the standardized lump-sum compensation provided for by Articles 5, 7 and 9 of Regulation 261/2004, but also the further compensation referred to in Article 12 of the Regulation, or jurisdiction is governed by Article 5 of Regulation 44/2001 instead. The Court of Justice ruled that Article 7(1) , Article 67 and Article 71(1) of Regulation 1215/2012 and Article 33 of the Montreal Convention must be interpreted as meaning that the court of a Member State hearing an action for both the standardized rights provided for by Regulation 261/2004 and compensation for further damage falling within the scope of that Convention, must determine its jurisdiction, for the first head of claim, in the light of Article 7(1) of Regulation 1215/2012, and, for the second head of claim, in the light of Article 33 of the Convention.
By its second question, the referring court asked whether Article 33 of the Montreal Convention must be interpreted to the effect that it governs only the allocation of jurisdiction among the States that are Parties thereto, or it also governs the local distribution of jurisdiction within the individual State. The Court of Justice ruled that Article 33 of the Convention must be interpreted, as regards actions for damages falling within its scope, as governing not only the allocation of jurisdiction as between States, but also the allocation of territorial jurisdiction (venue) among the courts of each of those States.