April case law digest
Case C-501/17, Germanwings v Wolfgang Pauels
Member state: Germany
Publication date: 4 April 2019
Subject of the case: Civil litigation - compensation by airlines
Summary of the case:
Mr Wolfgang Pauels booked a flight from Dublin (Ireland) to Düsseldorf (Germany) with Germanwings. The flight was delayed by 3 hours and 28 minutes.
Germanwings refused to pay compensation to Mr Pauels on the ground that the delay in the flight in question was due to damage to an aircraft tyre caused by a screw lying on the runway, circumstances which, it contends, must be regarded as extraordinary within the meaning of the EU regulation on air passenger rights and its obligation to pay compensation under that regulation as thereby excluded.
An air carrier is only required to compensate passengers for a delay of three hours or more where an aircraft tyre is damaged by a screw lying on the runway if it fails to prove that it deployed all means at its disposal for limiting the delay of the flight.
The Court clarified that an air carrier is not obliged to pay compensation to passengers if it is able to prove that the cancellation or delay in arrival of a flight equal to or in excess of three hours was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
Where such circumstances do arise, that it adopted measures appropriate to the situation, deploying all its resources in terms of staff or equipment and the financial means at its disposal in order to avoid that situation from resulting in the cancellation or long delay of the flight in question, without the air carrier being required to make intolerable sacrifices in the light of the capacities of its undertaking at the relevant time.
Case C-254/18, Syndicat des cadres de la sécurité intérieure v Premier ministre, ministre de l’Intérieur and ministre de l’Action et des Comptes publics (Union of home security forces personnel v Prime Minister, Home Affairs Minister and Minister of Public Accounts and Action)
Member state: France
Summary of the case:
A dispute arose between the Syndicat des cadres de la sécurité intérieure and the French authorities with regard to the reference period used to calculate the average weekly working time of active officials of the national police force. The French decree applicable to those officials provides that the weekly working time for each seven-day period, including overtime, may not exceed, on average, 48 hours in the course of a six-month period in a calendar year.
On 28 March 2017, the Syndicat des cadres de la sécurité intérieure brought proceedings before the Conseil d’État (Council of State, France) seeking the annulment of that provision. It argues that by using the calculation of the average weekly working time, a reference period expressed in six-month periods in the calendar year (fixed reference period), and not a six-month reference period the start and end of which change with the passage of time (rolling reference period), the aforementioned provision fails to comply with the rules set out in the directive concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, in particular the derogation under which Member States can extend the reference period up to six months.
The Conseil d’État asks the Court of Justice whether the provisions of the directive preclude the French legislation which lays down, for the purpose of calculating the average weekly working time, reference periods which start and end on fixed calendar dates, and not reference periods which are determined on a rolling basis.
The Court held that the Member States are free to determine reference periods in accordance with their chosen method, subject to respect for the objectives of that directive.
National legislation may lay down, for the purpose of calculating the average weekly working time, reference periods which start and end on fixed calendar dates provided that that legislation contains mechanisms which make it possible to ensure that the maximum average weekly working time of 48 hours is respected during each six-month period straddling two consecutive fixed reference periods.