02/02/2012

Easyjet falls foul of French courts

A Paris Tribunal has condemned 23 clauses in easyJet's terms and conditions. The Swiss aspect for this was commented on in the RSR radio emission "On en parle" this morning.


The judgement of the Paris Tribunal (Tribunal de Grande instance de Paris) was already mentioned in this newspaper yesterday, 1 February. It has been widely commented on in the French press, and also in the Financial Times of today, and it will probably cause further comment tomorrow. The 57 page judgement listed 23 clauses of the terms and conditions as being incompatible with French law.

This judgement was commented on in this morning's radio programme "On en parle". Of particular interest was the opinion of a legal expert, Anne-Christine Fornage, on how the judgement could also affect Switzerland (and remember that although there is a Swiss offshoot of easyJet which runs its own aircraft and flights, the same rules apply as for easyJet UK).

Although many comments have referenced the charges imposed when buying a ticket via a credit card (one cannot pay in cash!), there are actually many other aspects of the judgement which are particularly interesting. Not least of these is that the conditions state that any dispute is subject to English law judged in an English court: even I know that the Common Law used in many English-speaking countries differs from most European countries, whose origins come from French Napoleonic law. If I understood the judgement correctly, legal complaints may be filed in other countries, including Switzerland, and easyJet will be obliged to respond in those countries.

easyJet_Croatia.JPGAnother little item of interest was the fact that on publicity advertisements the true costs of flights are not specified. I actually already blogged about this, citing an announcement which could be seen in Geneva airport and which merely put an asterisk next to a quoted price. Nowhere on that announcement was there any explanation of what this asterisk signified: I still do not know how the airport authorities could have let this pass!

It is also interesting to realise that when you book a flight, it is not that you have responded to an offer of flights by easyJet, but rather that they have responded to your request for a flight. Furthermore, they do not guarantee that the flight will take place at the time that you see when you book it (so that you cannot claim compensation if a time change makes it impossible to take the flight).

One good piece of news, given in the radio interview, is that from the middle of the year, new Swiss legislation will allow the Confederation to act to ensure that such contracts are a fair balance between the two parties. At the moment, the person wanting to book a flight is over a barrel: failure to accept the conditions means not being able to book the flight!

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