Lightning Strikes Are Not “Extraordinary Circumstances” for Airlines

January 20, 2016

A court has ruled that lightning strikes are not one of the “extraordinary circumstances” that excuse airlines from paying flight delay compensation.

Current regulations state that passengers who are delayed by more than three hours may be able to claim up to €600 (£450) compensation, as long as the delay was not caused by extraordinary circumstances. However, there is no specific list of what constitutes such circumstances, which has led to numerous cases being brought to court.

Matthew Mawdsley was instructed by Bott & Co in an appeal case between Monarch Airlines and Michael Evans and Julie Lee. Mr Mawdsley argued that lightning strikes cannot be considered extraordinary because they are part of the day-to-day running of any airline.

In a case that could benefit thousands of passengers, Her Honour Judge Melissa Clarke ruled in favour of the passengers, and awarded them €600 each for a five hour flight delay.

Although the decision is not legally binding on other courts, it follows an appeal hearing at Luton County Court and is the lead case on the issue of lightning strikes. As such the decision will be highly persuasive in flight delay cases involving lightning in England and Wales.

Read the press release on the Bott & Co website. The case also received coverage on Mail and Business Traveller.