Europe

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France: Court of Appeal affirms fine for price fixing in the leisure and tourism sector

In a decision of June 6, 2013, the Paris Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the French Competition Authority fining the Géfil trade association and ten consulting firms in the leisure, culture and tourism engineering sector a total amount of EUR 660.700 for having issued instructions to use “fair prices” and to avoid “dumping” and “price wars”. These instructions were found to have been used as a benchmark for price quotations filed by consulting firms in response to calls for tenders.

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UK: Court of Appeal clarifies "accident" according to Article 17 of the Montreal Convention

 The plaintiff had a history of some gynaecological issues and she had been prone to recurrent symptoms suggestive of urinary infection, ie. cystitis. She had treated herself and had bought "over the counter" medication to take if she had an episode of it.  She had packed this medication in her main luggage before going on her flight from London Heathrow to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur with the defandant carrier.  Before the plainitff boarded the aircraft she urinated normally at about 9pm.

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ECJ: the special VAT scheme for travel agents is not limited to sales of travel services to travellers

The European Commission brought a series of infringement proceedings against eight Member States for failure to comply with their obligations under the directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax. The actions relate to the special scheme for travel agents.

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ECJ: Delayed rail passsengers are entitled to a partial price refund - even in cases of force majeure

The Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations provides that the liability of railway undertakings in the case of delay is governed by the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract for International Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Rail, subject to the applicable provisions of the regulation.

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German Supreme Court: "bird strike" constitutes "extraordinary cicumstances"

In judgements issued yesterday in two parallel cases, the German Supreme Court (BGH) has held that a bird strike constitutes extraordinary circumstances and thus exempts the air carrier from the obligation to pay compensation to the passengers in case of a cancellation or a long delay if the air carrier can prove that it had taken all reasonable measures to avoid the cacellation or delay. The Supreme Court argued that bird strikes were unforeseeable and unforstallable events for air carriers.

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Germany: Supreme Court reconfirms compensation for missed connecting flight

In a recent judgment, the German Supreme Court (BGH) reconfirmed that passengers who miss their connecting flight due to a delay of the feeder are entitled to claim for compensation if they reach their final destination 3 hrs or more after their scheduled arrival. The plaintiffs had booked a flight from Miami to Düsseldorf via Madrid. As the departure in Miami was delayed for 01:20 hrs they arrived in Madrid too late to catch their connecting flight to Düsseldorf. They were rebooked to another flight and reached Düsseldorf with a delay of 07:30 hrs.

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UK: Virgin Atlantic looses dispute over flat bed airline seat patent

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd sought to recover damages exceeding £49,000,000 for the infringement of its flat bed airline seat patent. However, the Technical Board of Appeal ("TBA") of the European Patent Office ("EPO") found that in the form in which the patent was originally granted the relevant claims were invalid because they had been anticipated by prior art and therefore has retrospectively amended the patent so as to remove with effect from the date of grant all the claims said to have been infringed.

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Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament publishes Draft Report on the Commission's proposal for a new Air Passenger Rights Regulation

On August 26, 2013, the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament has published a Draft Report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights and Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air.

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German court requests ECJ preliminary ruling with regard to passport data

The German Verwaltungsgerichtshof Baden-Württemberg has filed a reference for preliminary ruling to the ECJ regarding interpretation of Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States. The reference includes the following questions:

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UK: OFT consults on proposed hotel booking commitments

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) opened a consultation on commitments proposed by Booking.com B.V. (Booking.com), Expedia Inc (Expedia) and InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG), designed to address its competition concerns in relation to the online offering of room only hotel accommodation bookings by Online Travel Agents (OTAs).

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