High Court ruling opens the processing of 833 airline complaints

14. December 2015

Today, The Eastern High Court ruled in favour of a consumer, as it declared that the online travel agency Goleif was required to reimburse the consumer’s home journey costs when the airline Cimber Sterling went bankrupt. The verdict has effect on handling 833 similar airline complaints filed at the Consumer Complaints Board.

Deputy Director General of The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, Niels C. Beier, states:

"We are pleased that a verdict has been passed. If the verdict stands, we can begin to process the 833 airline complaints that have been suspended. This means that the consumers are one step closer to a decision in their case."

"The Eastern High Court have ruled in favour of the consumer. However, this verdict is not tantamount to the same outcome in the other airline complaints cases at the Consumer Complaints Board. We will have to perform an assessment of the circumstances in each case."

Today, The Eastern High Court have decided that the online travel agency Goleif was obliged to reimburse the home journey costs for a consumer when the airline Cimber Sterling went bankrupt.

If the verdict stands the Consumer Complaints Board will reopen the 833 complaint cases that were paused until the verdict from The Eastern High Court was pronounced.

The 833 complaint cases filed at the Consumer Complaints Board have in common that the consumers have purchased their airline ticket through an online travel agency. Moreover, the travel agency have rejected to be identified as contracting party in the event of problems with the flight.

This verdict passed by The Eastern High Court concerns a consumer, who purchased a flight ticket to Nice through the online travel agency Golief.dk in 2012.

Goleif have rejected to reimburse the consumer’s home journey costs with reference to its role as an intermediary and it maintains that the airline was the actual contracting party.

In January 2014, the city court in Roskilde gave a ruling in favour of Golief. Accordingly, the Danish Consumer Ombudsman appealed to the high court on behalf of the consumer. Therefore, the cases at the Consumer Complaints Board have been put on hold until the verdict from The Eastern High Court was given. The Consumer Complaints Board have in similar cases, just as the Eastern High Court, identified the online travel agency as the contracting party.

The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority await whether Goleif will lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority act as secretariat for the Consumer Complaints Board.

Facts in the case of Goleif

  1. The consumer purchased flight tickets through the online travel agency Goleif.dk in 2012
  2. The consumer were supposed to travel with Cimber Sterling that went bankrupt before the home journey
  3. Goleif have rejected to reimburse the consumer's home journey expenses stating to be an intermediary without such responsibilities, while Cimber Sterling were the contracting party
  4. The issue has been whether information about Goleifs role as an intermediary has been posted clear and evident on the website
  5. This case is a test case, which may have implications for other cases in which the question on an intermediary’s role also arises, e.g. purchases on deal sites, booking sites for accommodation etc.
14. December 2015

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