My Ferry Has Been Cancelled. What Are My Rights?
As part of the fallout from Covid-19 a number of ferry journeys to the Continent have been cancelled. If this has occurred to you your rights are determined by EU Regulation No 1177/2010 which, despite Brexit, is still part of UK law with only minor, inconsequential, amendments.
As far as cancellation is concerned the Regulation provides that you must be informed of the cancellation as soon as reasonably possible. Then, if the cancellation will involve a delay of more than 90 minutes, you must be offered the option of either:
- Re-routing to the final destination at no additional cost, at the earliest opportunity, under comparable conditions, or
- Reimbursement of the ticket price and, where relevant, a return service return service free of charge to the first point of departure set out in your transport contract at the earliest opportunity.
If you choose re-routing but this involves the need for overnight accommodation the ferry company must provide this for you for up to three nights but the cost will be limited to £70 per night. You are also entitled to snacks, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to your waiting time in addition to the accommodation.
If you decide not to go for re-routing and opt for a refund you are not obliged to take vouchers. You are entitled to a cash refund which must be paid within seven days. You can of course accept a voucher if you wish.
You are also entitled to compensation while waiting for the re-routing on a scale related to the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. You will get 25% of the ticket price for a delay of at least:
- 1 hour in the case of a scheduled journey of up to 4 hours;
- 2 hours in the case of a scheduled journey of more than 4 hours, but not exceeding 8 hours;
- 3 hours in the case of a scheduled journey of more than 8 hours, but not exceeding 24 hours; or
- 6 hours in the case of a scheduled journey of more than 24 hours.
If the delay exceeds double the time set out in points (a) to (d), you are entitled to 50% of the ticket price.
However you will not get this compensation if the cancellation is caused by weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship or by extraordinary circumstances hindering the performance of the service.
This raises the question of whether Covid-19 amounts to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Ultimately this is a question which can only be answered by a court but if the ferry company is merely reducing the number of its services and other ferry companies are still running services on the same route it would appear that the reason for the cancellation is for commercial reasons. The service can still be performed. Governments on either side of the Channel have not made it illegal to run the service.
But what of the family who are taking the (fictitious) ferry from say Edinburgh to Santander and the sailing is cancelled for a week? To get to Spain they will now have to drive to Dover in a hire car and then drive down through France. This will necessitate at least two nights overnight accommodation and the loss of two nights pre-paid accommodation in Spain and two days pre-paid car rental. The refund of the price of the ticket will not cover these extra costs. Can these consequential losses be recovered over and above the refund of the ticket price?
The Regulation does say that there is nothing in the Regulation to prevent you claiming for this under English law. A successful claim will depend upon:
- The cancellation being regarded as a breach of contract
- The losses being reasonably foreseeable
- The steps you took to mitigate your loss are regarded as reasonable.
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