Passengers have today taken Ryanair to court for tying to wriggle out of paying compensation for flight delays that happened more than two years ago. If a decision goes in their favour, it may make it easier for others to claim too.
The Goel and Trivedi v Ryanair test case, which is being heard at Manchester County Court, will decide whether Ryanair can limit the amount of time a passenger can take a claim to court to two years, rather than the required six years.
As the case is being heard at a county court level, it won't set a legally binding precedent, meaning other courts don't have to follow its example.
But solicitors' firm Bott & Co, which specialises in flight claims and is representing the passengers in court, believes that as it's a test case, other courts in England and Wales are likely to follow the decision.
A judgment could be made today or within the next few days or weeks – we'll report it when it happens. See our Flight Delays guide to check if you're due compensation for a flight delay or cancellation, and for help on how to reclaim yourself for free.
Haven't airlines already been told they can't limit claims to two years?
If you've been delayed at any time since 2005, you have a right to compensation under EU rules (as long as you fit the other qualifying criteria too – see our Flight Delays guide for the details).
In the UK, it's easier in practice if it's been since 2008 as you can only take your case through the small claims system within six years from the delayed flight in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and within five years in Scotland.
In June 2014, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the time limit for bringing a claim for compensation must be determined in accordance with the laws of each individual country.
Thomson – the airline at the centre of the challenge to the Court of Appeal – tried to overturn this ruling, but was refused permission to do so by the Supreme Court in October 2014. This means the law is clear, you CAN claim for flights going back at least six years (five in Scotland).
But according to Bott & Co, Ryanair has been arguing that a clause in its terms and conditions states that passengers only have two years to claim. Today's test case will decide whether or not Ryanair is right.
A spokesperson for Ryanair says: "We don't comment on pending legal matters. Ryanair fully complies with all EU261 legislation and deals with each claim on a case by case basis."
What is today's case about?
Today's case relates to two separate passengers – Goel and Trivedi (their first names haven't been disclosed) – whose flight from Reus in Spain to Stanstead in England was delayed by nearly 10 hours on 6 May 2008 following a technical fault.
Both parties asked Bott & Co to take on their claim (you can reclaim yourself for free – see our Flight Delays guide for the details), which was filed at court on 30 January 2014 – five years and 8 months after the flight delay.
The cases have been on hold pending other legal challenges, but will now be heard together today.