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BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: Has Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook morphed into a monster beyond his control? The Devon home that looks like a luxury treehouse! Where are you most likely to get a bus lane fine? Airlines Thomson and Jet2 will be hit with massive compensation bills after a judge ruled they had been incorrectly denying thousands of passengers’ flight delay or cancellation claims by using a loophole exposed by This is Money.
It is another victory for consumer rights as judges cracked down on Thomson for denying payouts to its customers, and comes a week after another landmark court ruling opened the floodgates for people to claim compensation for flight delays caused by technical faults. The Court of Appeal today ruled in favour of Peterborough resident James Dawson, who was denied compensation by the package holiday firm for the eight-hour delay to his flight to the Dominican Republic in December 2006 because he had failed to bring his claim within two years of the trip. Ruling: The Court of Appeal rejected Thomson’s attempt to continue imposing a two-year limit on flight delays. 600 compensation unless it was caused by extraordinary circumstances like extreme weather or industrial action. And according to the EU, how far back claims can be made depends on laws in individual member states, and the six-year statute of limitations rule is typically applied in UK courts. But Thomson said it was following little-known international aviation law set out in the Montreal Convention that limits claims to just two years, and said today’s ruling could lead to fare rises as it will now have to take claims dating back an extra four years.
Victory: James Dawson took Thomson to Cambridge County Court after they denied his compensation claim. David Bott, who represented Mr Dawson, said: ‘This is a huge victory for passengers in what has been a David versus Goliath type battle against the airlines. We welcome the judgment and the much needed guidance it has brought to the flight compensation process here in the UK. Passengers will now know with far more certainty whether they are entitled to compensation. Despite the ruling in favour of consumers, our advice remains the same and that is for anyone who has suffered delays to make their claim as soon as possible after it happened as it makes it easier to access information. This is Money revealed last September that Thomson was using the Montreal Convention as a loophole to avoid paying out compensation, with further investigations finding that Jet2 was doing the same. But throughout the case Thomson has been adamant that as the Montreal Convention is also enshrined in UK law, it is valid to use the limits set out within it.
Mr Dawson, 40, brought his claim to court after he applied for compensation from Thomson in December 2012, just under six years after he travelled on the delayed flight from Gatwick Airport to the Dominican Republic on Christmas Day with his wife Sarah. You can actually claim for flight delays dating back to February 2005, but if the case comes to court then the cut-off point is six years. Even if an airline is not responsible for the delay – for example if extreme weather is preventing travel – it still has a duty of care to delayed passengers. They should provide food and refreshments, phone calls and even hotels if necessary. If you’ve been left out of pocket as a result of a delay, it’s important to keep receipts so you can claim them back off the airline at a later date. Airlines can deny compensation if the delay was caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’. These can include extreme weather, civil unrest, industrial action, a manufacturing defect and bird strikes.