Mead v British Airways Plc
DJ Moss, Manchester County Court, 15th Jan 2018
This was a claim brought under the Montreal Convention where damages were settled without the need for proceedings. Costs could not be agreed, and so they went to Detailed Assessment. The Points of Dispute argued the Portal should have been used. The DJ found on provisional assessment that the Portal should not have been used. The Defendant sought oral review of that point.
On oral review the court again found that claims brought under the Montreal Convention did not have to be brought under the Portal. The Montreal Convention governs liability of international carriers to air passengers, and it is an exclusive cause of action. Claims under the Montreal Convention are not common law claims, they do not arise out of a breach of duty. They are strict liability claims, and with that comes some limits, including for example the total amount of damages which can be claimed and which types of injuries are covered. The Montreal Convention does not create any duties. Therefore the Portal does not apply and costs would not be limited. The judge noted the circumstances would have given rise to a
common law or other breach of duty, but held that was immaterial - there was no duty of care created by the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention was the exclusive remedy.
For a full copy of the judgment, click here.
I am grateful to Peter Bland of Scott Rees for sending me a copy of this case.
This case, together with the McKendry v BA case, whilst not binding, seems to confirm that Montreal Convention claims do not proceed through the Portal. At first blush this may seem surprising, especially given that there is no specific exclusion of Montreal Convention claims in the Portal protocol, and the general unwillingness to implied exceptions to fixed costs. However, once one considers properly the nature of Montreal Convention claims; strict liability claims arising out of international agreement, rather than breach of duty claims, then it is clear to see it does not match with the Portal Protocol.