The Court of Cassation will be addressing Ryanair's controversial jurisdiction clause

The fact that Ryanair is doing everything in its power to shirk its legal obligations towards passengers is no longer news. Its now infamous jurisdiction clause has led to legal action almost everywhere in Europe. This Friday 8 February, the Court of Cassation in Belgium will be considering one of these cases between the low-cost airline Ryanair and Happy Flights from Ghent.


Jurisdiction clause: a European matter

In June last year, the Dutch-speaking Business Court in Brussels ruled in two lawsuits involving Happy Flights and Ryanair that it was not competent to rule on the merits. In its ruling, it stated that the cases concerning EU261 should be settled before an Irish court as is mentioned in paragraph 2.4 of Ryanair's general terms and conditions. Happy Flights, however, did not agree with this verdict and decided to go to the Court of Cassation.

The debate surrounding the European courts' powers with regard to claims for damages against Ryanair has been running high for several months now. Courts and consumer organisations across Europe have started to question Ryanair's policy. For months, Happy Flights has also been trying to bring the low-cost airline to its knees.


The departure or arrival airport is the key element

Being the link between travellers and airlines, Happy Flights first of all aims to act as an intermediary. “But people who refuse to make amends, have to bear the consequences”, says Steven Willems, the CEO of Happy Flights, “It doesn't make sense to have to refer people to an Irish court all the time!”

Happy Flights' position is clear: legal procedures can be initiated at the departure or arrival airport for all legal cases covered by the EU261/2004 regulation. The European Court of Justice has made this clear in the past. “Of course, such legal proceedings should be avoided. But if we can't reach an amicable settlement, our travellers have no other option left.”


Favourable opinion

This Friday, the Court of Cassation plans to consider the jurisdiction clause. As the public prosecutor's opinion supports Happy Flights on all counts, the Court of Cassation will in all likelihood follow this opinion on Friday. As a result, all cases that were rejected as not admissible last year will be reopened to be decided on the merits, which is very good news for many other cases that Happy Flights has running against Ryanair.

Happy Flights legal
Steven Willems