Ryanair lose Supreme Court case against Bott & Co
A recent Supreme Court decision in favour of Bott & Co means that when Ryanair pay compensation due to passengers under Regulation 261 for delays or cancellation of flights Bott & Co will be able to deduct their costs before the balance is paid to passengers. The case was decided on a technical legal point as to the extent to which a firm of solicitors has a lien for their costs on compensation awarded to their clients but paid direct to the claimant rather than via their solicitors.
A passage from the case highlights the importance to Bott & Co of the decision:
“When Ryanair pays Bott’s client directly, Bott loses the opportunity to deduct its fees from the compensation paid by Ryanair before paying the balance to the client. Bott must therefore pursue the client directly for payment of its fees. Bott says that its experience has been that only about 70% of clients pay in response to a direct request and that, given the relatively small sum involved – an average of about £95 per claim, it is not administratively or financially feasible to take legal action to recover its fees from clients who do not pay them.”
Lady Arden noted that ‘‘the work of the solicitors in this case, while inconvenient to Ryanair, is entrepreneurial and clearly results in solicitors providing a service which people find useful.’’
Lord Briggs said “The disproportionate cost of having to engage solicitors (or other legal professionals) for the pursuit of small or moderate claims is, if anything, the biggest single impediment to access to civil justice in England and Wales.’’
Lord Briggs also said of Ryanair’s policy of paying passengers directly rather than via Bott & Co ‘’… [it] was probably motivated (at least in part) by a desire on the part of Ryanair to undermine the economic viability of Bott’s scheme, and thereby to exclude solicitors from becoming involved in flight delay cases at all.’’
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