Since the law on the assistance and compensation given to passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled came into force last year, the Israeli courts have dealt with a number of claims based on its provisions. In one such case, the judge examined the basis for the special circumstances under which an air carrier will be exempt from paying compensation to passengers following a flight delay.
The Magistrates Court of Tel Aviv recently declined Virgin Atlantic's request to stay the proceedings against it and rejected its argument that the Israeli court was not the appropriate forum to hear a claim filed against it by Israeli citizens. Virgin Atlantic had argued that according to the 'majority of links' test, the claim should be heard in London; the plaintiffs instead argued that most of the ties connected the claim to the Israeli court.
The Magistrates Court of Tel Aviv recently stated that negligence did not constitute a cause of action under the Warsaw Convention and the Carriage by Air Law. The court accepted the argument that the "occurrence which caused the damage" took place while the shipment was no longer under the control and supervision of the carrier. The case centred on failure to store a shipment under refrigeration while awaiting collection.
The Tel Aviv District Court was recently requested to reconsider a case involving the application of the Warsaw Convention when interpreting the term 'for reward' in relation to the crash of a helicopter that had been leased. On hearing the additional evidence presented by the parties, the court concluded that the Warsaw Convention was indeed applicable to the flight and dismissed the claim as time barred.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that although a general sales agent agreement may include an arbitration clause, when the parties ignore the clause and take actions that indicate their unwillingness to apply it, this stipulation will be considered void. A general expression of willingness to satisfy an arbitration clause is insufficient if a party's actions reveal otherwise.
The Tel Aviv District Court recently reversed a 2010 magistrates court decision in which it had been decided that Maman Cargo (an airport warehouse) was the carrier's agent, in a case relating to shipments stolen in transit. The district court decided that it was sufficient that Maman's services were compulsory for aircraft companies in order for the Warsaw Convention not to apply thereto.
The Tel Aviv District Court, in an appeal, recently ordered Austrian Airlines to compensate plaintiffs following an unreasonable flight delay, which had been caused by damage to the pilot's cockpit window. The court concluded that the appellants had proved the delay and further ruled that the carrier had not proved its defence, as it had provided no proof relating to measures taken to trace the fault in advance.
In a recent case the Acre Magistrates Court considered whether, under the Warsaw Convention, an airline was liable for damage to a passenger's luggage during transit. After assessing the case the court applied Article 25 of the convention and determined that the claim under consideration was not subject to the limitation of indemnity provided for by Article 22 of the convention.
In a recent decision the Petah Tikva District Court considered the interpretation of Articles 29(1) and 29(2) of the Warsaw Convention in Israel. A subrogation claim had been filed by the National Insurance Institute against an aircraft carrier. The district court declined the motion and held that the two-year limitation period set by the convention is an absolute provision which may not be extended by the provisions of local law.
In a recent judgment by the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court, the court accepted a bodily injury claim filed by a passenger who was injured when sliding down an evacuation slide that had been deployed after smoke was observed in the aircraft after landing. Despite the fact that the court had applied the Warsaw Convention to the flight, the compensation to the plaintiff was not limited according to the provisions of the convention.
The Rishon Le-Zion Magistrates' Court recently handed down judgment in a case involving eight claims filed by passengers as a result of a 17-hour delay in a flight from Israel to Turkey. Some of the passengers decided not to take the delayed flight and thus claimed for a full refund; other passengers took the delayed flight and claimed for damages (mainly for mental anguish) caused by the delay.
A recent court judgment analysed the applicability of the Warsaw Convention to a carrier's agent for shipments stolen in transit. The court ruled that limited liability (under the convention) applied to both the shipments' forwarder and the warehouse which stored the shipments at the airport. The forwarder's employee was convicted of theft and must face full liability. The case has been appealed.
In a recent case the Kiryat Gat Magistrates Court ruled on a physical injury claim filed against the Airport Authority. The plantiff was injured by a fellow passenger when waiting to pick up her luggage in the baggage reclaim hall at the airport. The court ruled that the authority, as owner of the airport, should have taken steps to prevent physical harm to passengers.
A significant new amendment was recently made to the Carriage by Air Law 1980. Previously, the law applied the Warsaw Convention 1929 (as well as the Hague Protocol 1955) to international and domestic air carriage. The law has now been amended to apply the Montreal Convention to international and domestic carriage. This amendment will come into force subject to an official notice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2001 a Siberia Airlines plane was hit by a Ukrainian Army rocket and crashed over the Black Sea. In 2008 the Tel Aviv District Court dealt with the issue of whether the two-year limitation period provided under the Warsaw Convention may be extended based on the Israeli Law of Limitation 1958. The court ruled that under unique circumstances it is possible to extend the convention's short prescription period.
In a recent judgment the Tel Aviv District Court interpreted the term 'for reward' when applying the Warsaw Convention to the crash of a helicopter which had been leased. The court dismissed the claim against the aircraft operator and its insurers due to the fact that the two-year limitation period had elapsed before the claim was filed.
In a recent case the plaintiff had purchased tickets through a travel agency to fly with EL AL Israel Airlines. The price had been calculated in Israeli shekels according to the 'cash rate', rather than the lower 'transfers and cheques rate'. The plaintiff alleged that there was an agency and trust relationship between the travel agency and the carrier, and that thus the travel agency's actions should be attributed to EL AL.
In a recent case involving an aircraft crash the Haifa District Court ruled that the insurer, which failed to pay insurance benefits on time, may be obliged to compensate the insured for the damage suffered as a result of the delay. The ruling necessitates a review of declination procedures and requires insurers to consider, before declining coverage, whether the declination is well founded.
The liability of an air carrier is provided for under the Warsaw Convention, as enacted into Israeli law. However, is the liability of a freight forwarder also governed by the Warsaw Convention? In a recent decision the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court referred to the applicability of the two-year limitation period under the Warsaw Convention to a claim against a freight forwarder which had not issued an airway bill.
Air accidents inevitably raise a number of complex issues, including the issue of jurisdiction. Where the Warsaw Convention applies, a framework for jurisdiction is specified; however, where it does not apply, jurisdictional issues may become more problematic. This issue has been addressed by Israeli courts in several aviation claims arising from accidents that have occurred in non-commercial circumstances.