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14 January 2015
On December 23 2014 the Ramle Magistrates Court partially accepted a claim filed by Mr and Mrs Gali against El Al Israel Airlines for direct damages sustained following the late arrival of their baggage.(1) However, the court rejected the plaintiffs' claim for mental anguish caused by the delay.
On May 23 2013 the plaintiffs took an El Al flight from Israel to London. Upon landing, the plaintiffs notified El Al that their baggage had not arrived. The baggage was delivered to the plaintiffs three days later.
The plaintiffs argued that they were required to purchase clothing and hygiene products in the amount of £1,097. On July 3 2013 the plaintiffs complained to El Al, demanding compensation for their alleged loss. El Al declined their request based on the argument that the complaint was made 21 days after the period for filing a complaint, as set out in the Montreal Convention.
The plaintiffs argued that the El Al representatives did not inform them about the 21-day period during which the complaint should have been filed when they first notified the airline at the airport about the problem.
The plaintiffs' damages comprised financial loss due to the fact that they were forced to buy clothing and hygiene products, as well as the inconvenience and mental anguish caused to them by the late arrival of their baggage.
El Al repeated the argument that the plaintiffs had not made a complaint within the 21-day period as required by the Montreal Convention. The plaintiffs' loss was negligible, it argued, as they received their baggage after three days.
After hearing the evidence and the written summations, the court ruled that the Montreal Convention applied in this case. Regarding Article 31 of the convention, the court concluded that since the plaintiffs had submitted a complaint form at the airport and had several conversations with an El Al representative thereafter, these actions satisfied the convention requirements that a demand must be made within 21 days.
The court accepted the plaintiffs' argument that El Al did not inform them that a complaint must be made within 21 days as a condition for receiving compensation. The court referred to a previous ruling of the Rishon-le-Zion Magistrates Court which confirmed that, as a matter of fairness, plaintiffs must be informed of this condition.(2)
The court further stated that a narrow interpretation of Article 31 could not be accepted in a case where El Al took no action to inform the plaintiffs in a clear and unambiguous way about the requirements for filing the complaint.
Regarding the compensation claim, the court stated that the plaintiffs' claim for direct loss exceeded the maximum limits of compensation set out in the convention, which applies in case of a total loss. In this case, the plaintiffs received all of their baggage with no damage sustained. In addition, the clothing and personal products that the plaintiffs had purchased remained in their possession.
In view of the above, the court awarded the plaintiffs only part of their claim for direct damages in the amount of NIS2,500 (instead of NIS6,049).
As to the plaintiffs' claim for mental anguish, the court referred to Article 29 of the convention under which: "punitive, exemplary or any other non-compensatory damages shall not be recoverable". Based on the above, the court rejected the plaintiffs' claim for mental anguish.
For further information on this topic please contact Peggy Sharon or Keren Marco at Levitan, Sharon & Co by telephone (+972 3 688 6768), fax (+972 3 688 6769) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Levitan, Sharon & Co website can be accessed at www.israelinsurancelaw.com.
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