Europe

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German Supreme Court (BGH) decides on air carrier liability for passenger fall on boarding bridge

The claimant was about to embark for his flight from Düsseldorf to Hamburg on Feb. 9, 2013, when he slipped on the boarding bridge because of a wet floor caused by condensation. As a result he suffered from a fracture of his patella. He filed a claim for damages against the defendant air carrier. The first instance court (LG Düsseldorf) dismissed the claim and the appelate court (OLG Düsseldorf) confirmed this decision: according to the Montral Convention, the air carrier was only libale for accidents caused by a hazard which was characteristic for aviation.

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Austria: Constitutional Court upholds ban on 'best price' clauses for online hotel booking portals

Effecitve by January 1, 2017, an amendment to the Austrian Unfair Competition Act (UWG) introduced a ban on 'best price' clauses for hotel booking portals. These clauses were qualified as an agressive business practice. According to such clauses, a hotel operator who wanted to sell rooms through online portals had to accept not to offer these rooms for a lower price or at more favourable conditions though any other distribution channel including the hotel's own website.

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CJEU: airline crew members can sue their employer at their "home base"

Ryanair and Crew link are companies established in Ireland. Ryanair is active in the international passenger air transport sector. Crewlink is specialised in the recruitment and training of cabin crew for airlines. Between 2009 and 2011, employees of Portuguese, Spanish and Belgian nationality were hired by Ryanair or by Crewlink, then assigned to Ryanair, as cabin crew (air hostesses and stewards ).

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Austrian Supreme Court: sporting operator not liable for banana boat accident

In August 2013, the plaintiff who spent his holidays at an Austrian lake booked a "banana boat ride" operated by the defendant. Before mounting the "banana", the participants were instructed that the banana was likely to capsize and they should cling on tight.  During the ride which was operated in an accurate manner and at reasonable speed the banana, indeed, capsized and the plaintiff was seriously injured on his head probably because he collided with another passenger's body.

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CJEU decides on disclosure of air ticket price components and cancellation fees

A German Consumer Association (Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände) made a test booking on Air Berlin’s website and found that the taxes, charges and fees applicable to the ticket were indicated as being only 1 Euro or 3 Euro while the real taxes, charges and fees must have been much higher. The Consumer Association regarded this practice as misleading.

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CJEU Advocate General: Uber can be required to obtain the necessary licences under national law

In 2014 the Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi (‘Elite Taxi’), a professional organisation representing taxi drivers in the city of Barcelona, brought an action before Commercial Court No 3 in Barcelona asking the court, inter alia, to impose penalties on the Spanish company Uber Systems Spain SL (‘Uber Spain’), a company belonging to a group managing the Uber platform, for engaging in unfair competition towards Elite Taxi’s drivers. In particular, Elite Taxi maintained that Uber Spain is not entitled to provide the UberPop service in the city of Barcelona.

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Germany: no free termination of package contract because of voided passports

The plaintiff had booked a holiday package to the U.S. organized by the defendant. She was supposed to travel to the U.S. together with her husband and her daughter on May 19, 2013. In January 2013 she applied for new passports for her daughter and herself which were issued and sent to her accordingly. However, as the authorties did not receive any confirmation of delivery, it was assumed that the passports had got lost and therefore they were declared void. However, no information was provided to the plaintiff.

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CJEU clarifies burden of proof for timely information on flight cancellation

In case of cancellation of a flight, according to Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 the carrier shall be exempt from the obligation to pay compensation if the passengers were informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure.

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CJEU: bird strikes qualify as "extraordinary circumstances"

In a highly anticipated judgement, the CJEU held  today that a collision between an aircraft and a bird, as well as any damage caused by that collision, are not intrinsically linked to the operating system of the aircraft, with the result that such a collision is not by  its nature or origin inherent in the  normal exercise of the activity  of the air carrier concerned and  is outside its actual control.  Accordingly,  a collision between an  aircraft and a bird is an extraordinary circumstance within the meaning of the regulation.

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CJEU asked to decide on price quotation for air tickets - which currency?

Article 23 of Reg. (EC) No 1008/2008 provides that with regard to air fares and air rates available to the general public, the final price to be paid shall at all times be indicated and shall include the applicable air fare or air rate as well as all applicable taxes, and charges, surcharges and fees which are unavoidable and foreseeable at the time of publication. However, there is no explicit rule on a particular currency to be used.

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