European Court of Justice: hearing on Reg. 261/2004

On Sep. 24, 2008 European Court of Justice held a hearing in connected cases C- 402/07 (Sturgeon v. Condor) and C-432/07 (Böck v. Air France) regarding differentiation between delay and cancellation on the one hand and acknowledgement of technical problems as extraordinary circumstances on the other. Apart from plaintiffs’ counsels only the counsels of Condor (defendant in case C-402/07) and representatives of the Commission, Greece and the United Kingdom attended the hearing.Advocate General Sharpston showed specific interest in the importance of the flight number for the purpose of distinguishing a mere delay from cancellation. The most pointed remark came from UK’s representative who argued for a very restrictve interpretation of the term “cancellation” covering only cases when no flight at all was operated. This resulted into a robust discussion with the Advocate General who laid strong emphasis on the principle of equal treatment of comparable situations: from the passenger’s view it wouldn’t make much difference whether he reached his destination one day later because of a delay or because of a cancellation. Ms Sharpston stressed that the fundamental principle of equal treatment was binding for the European secondary legislator.Ms Sharpston announced that she will give her opinion at a later stage of the proceedings.

Leave a Comment