In Moré v Koninklijke (Case C-139/11) the European Court of Justice was asked to give a ruling upon the limitation period applicable for claims for fixed compensation for cancellation or delay made under EC Regulation 261/2004 (commonly known as the ‘Denied Boarding Regulations’).
The Court rejected the Defendant’s arguments that the 2-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention applied. It held that “the compensation measure laid down in Articles 5 and 7 of Regulation 261/2004 falls outside the scope of the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions”. Accordingly since the Regulation did not contain any provision fixing a time-limit for claims, the Court concluded that limitation period should be “determined in accordance with the rules of each Member state on the limitation of actions”.
Where does this leave claims brought in England and Wales? The judgment in Moré leaves no room for arguing that, since the Montreal Convention is incorporated into domestic English law, it should still set the applicable limitation period. The Court has concluded that claims under the regulations simply fall outside the substantive scope of the Convention altogether.
In Moré itself, Spanish law made specific provision for “claims for which no other period is stipulated”. The result was that a 10 year limitation period applied.
There is no equivalent provision in English law. However, section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980 provides that “an action to recover any sum recoverable by virtue of any enactment shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date of which the cause of action accrued”. If EC Regulation 261/2004 is an ‘enactment’, it is likely that a 6 year period applies, therefore. The result is that consumers bringing claims for fixed compensation for delayed or cancelled flights are now provided with a much more generous limitation period than exists in many other types of aviation claims, which will continue to be governed by the Warsaw and Montreal Regimes.