UK Civil Aviation Authority Reviewing Implications of "Fat Tax" Ruling
- Written by Roberto Castiglioni
The UK Civil Aviation Authority is "carefully considering and reviewing" the implications of recent rulings that could see disabled passengers rights denied.
The Court of Appeal dismissed two separate cases involving wheelchair-bound passengers, ruling that the Montreal Convention, a framework of international rules and regulations on air travel, takes precedence over British law.
In one case, disabled child Tony Hook filed a complaint against British Airways, alleging that on both the outward and return flights from London to Paphos (Cyprus) the airline failed to make reasonable efforts to meet his seating requirements. Under European Regulation 1107/2006, the airline "shall make all reasonable efforts arrange seating to meet the needs of individuals with a disability or reduced mobility on request and subject to safety requirements and availability."
The Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed the appeal. "In my judgment it is clear from the decision of the House of Lords in Sidhu there are no exceptions to the exclusivity of the Convention. The EC Regulation does not override the Convention and Regulation 9 of the UK Regulations must be read to accord with the EC Regulation. There is no breach of the principle of equivalence. Neither the EC Regulation nor Regulation 9 of the UK Regulations creates a private law cause of action sounding in damages. The Appellant may invoke the administrative enforcement regime which is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority."
Robin Allen QC and Catherine Casserley, instructed by Equality & Human Rights Commission, Manchester, filed the unsuccessful appeal for plaintiff Tony Hook.
On Monday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it may seek to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling on the issue in the Supreme Court.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority, national enforcement body of regulation 1107/2006, focuses on the implications of these rulings.
"The CAA is currently considering the judgement from the Court of Appeal in the matter of Stott vs. Thomas Cook and Hook vs. British Airways," a spokesperson for the CAA told Reduced Mobility Rights.
"This is a complex legal area and alongside the Department for Transport, which is responsible for the legislation in this area, we are carefully considering the implications of the ruling, and how best to address the issues that it raises," the CAA spokesperson added.
While some focused on these rulings as paving the way to the so called "fat tax", the CAA looks at the big picture, and how these rulings substantially diminish the rights of disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility traveling by air.