Case News - Stott (Appellant) v Thomas Cook Tour Operators Limited (Respondent) [2014] UKSC 15

24 March 2014

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The Supreme Court recently considered it had the power to award damages for a claimant's discomfort and injury to feelings caused by a breach of the UK Disability Regulations by a private carrier. The question was whether an award was precluded by the Montreal Convention which had been adopted into EU law.

The facts were that the Mr Stott was paralysed from the shoulders down and a permanent wheel chair user. When travelling by air, he relied on his wife to manage his incontinence by use of a catheter.

On a return flight from Zante to East Midlands on 12th September 2008, the couple were not seated together as requested. As Mr Stott entered the aircraft cabin, his wheel chair overturned. It was alleged that the cabin crew did not know how to deal with the situation. Eventually, the claimant's wife was seated behind him, which caused him considerable difficulties. The cabin crew did not ask other passengers to move seats, leaving Mrs Stott to kneel in the aisle of the aircraft to attend to her husband. Mr Stott brought a claim under the UK Disability Regulations for a declaration that Thomas Cooke's treatment of him was in breach of the company's duty to make all reasonable efforts to give his wife a seat next to him. In the first hearing,

Mr Stott was told that he would have been awarded £2500 compensation but the court did not have the power to make such an award due to the Montreal Convention. This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court reviewed the legislation and reluctantly agreed with the previous court findings that Mr Stott was not entitled to compensation.  Article 29 of the Montreal Convention excluded private carriers such as Thomas Cooke.

For further information on travel law, please contact Patrick Eastwood at p.eastwood@murphy-orawe.com

 

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