On 3 September 2020, the Court of Justice held its judgment in Case C‑356/19, Delfly sp. z o.o. v Smartwings Poland sp. z o. o., formerly Travel Service Polska sp. z o.o., on the interpretation of Article 7(1) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. The request has been made in proceedings between Delfly sp. z o.o. (“Delfly”) and Smartwings Poland sp. z o.o. (“Smartwings”) concerning a claim for compensation on the basis of Regulation No 261/2004.
On 23 July 2017, Ms X arrived at the check-in for a flight operated by Smartwings, a Polish air transport company, and directed from city A in a third country to city B in Poland. Since the flight was delayed by more than three hours, Ms X was entitled to compensation amounting to EUR 400 under Regulation No 261/2004, a claim she assigned to Delfly, a company established in Warsaw. The latter, therefore, brought an action before the Sąd Rejonowy dla m. st. Warszawy XV Wydział Gospodarczy (District Court for the Capital City of Warsaw, 15th Commercial Division; the “referring court”) requesting Smartwings being ordered to pay it the above-mentioned sum in Polish zlotys.
However, since Smartwings contended that the claim for compensation should be rejected, and in light of the need to interpret the relevant European legislation, the referring court stayed the proceedings asked the Court of Justice whether Regulation No 261/2004, and in particular Article 7(1) thereof, must be interpreted as meaning that passengers whose flights have been cancelled or subject to a long delay or their legal successors may demand payment of the amount of the compensation referred to in that provision in the national currency of their place of residence, so that that provision precludes a Member State’s legislation or case-law which results in the dismissal of an action brought for that purpose by such passengers or their legal successors on the sole ground that the claim was expressed in that national currency.
According to the Court, despite from a comparison of paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 7 of Regulation No 261/2004 there is no express provision for any latitude as regards a national currency, other than the euro, in which compensation is to be paid, provisions conferring rights on air passengers must be interpreted broadly. Therefore, since Regulation No 261/2004 applies to passengers without distinctions based on nationality or place of residence, imposing a condition that the amount of the compensation provided for in Article 7(1) may be paid only in euros and not in the legal tender of a non-euro area Member State is likely to lead to an unjustified difference in treatment of aggrieved passengers or their legal successors.