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Ryanair’s Retreat

Michael O’Leary, presumably, finally sought or was given proper legal advice. We can presume this from his craven back-pedaling we saw in the last few days.
He firstly refused to comply with Ryanair’s obligations, to compensate his customers for cancelled flights, under Council Regulation 261/2004, stating his obligations in terms of contract obligations only.
The next day he, cack-handedly said Ryanair would meet its obligations. He was cack-handed because the manner in which he made the concession was misleading; it suggested he had not changed his position and that customers were not entitled to any of the benefits he should have given to them.
If it were not for the fact that he referred to the Regulation obligations as “absurd” one would think he did not know of the Regulation, but he clearly did. What, then, changed his mind? What did he not know?
Despite the shameful failure of the Irish Government to introduce the possibility of conducting “class actions” in Ireland, O’Leary may have finally realized that he was going to be plunged into class actions in the UK.
Without exception, Ryanair travelers are “consumers” under EU law. Consequently, they are entitled to litigate disputes with Ryanair in the consumer’s place of residence.
Many of Ryanair’s customers were UK residents; they were going to issue proceedings in the UK. There, they could, and surely would, band together and litigate their claims as a class action. By this means they would off-set the advantage of size that Ryanair has over any single consumer, a circumstance perpetuated in Ireland by the sullen laziness of successive Irish Governments. (All that is required is to amend the Rules of the Superior Courts; something the Minister for Justice etc. could do in a flash).
As a measure of the power and benefit consumers would get from a class action, O’Leary folded just at the possibility of being at the receiving end of one, not waiting to find out what the experience would be like, an experience Brian Cowen will deny to Irish consumers even as he is driven from office.

One Comment

  1. It’s only fair that Ryanair should compensate its customers under EU law, but you have to feel a little sorry for them also as it was not their fault.