Van der Lans vs. KLM. What the European Court of Justice thought.

The EUclaim team were at the European Court of Justice Court in Luxembourg on 7 May 2015 to hear the Van der Lans vs. KLM case.   Representatives from the Dutch Government, the EU Commission and KLM were also present.  Germany, UK, France and Italy made written responses about the case but were not present at the hearing.

The Van der Lans vs. KLM case was recently reported in the UK press when it was highlighted in the Allen V which was heard at Liverpool County Court. In this instance Jet2 requested that their case was stayed or put on hold pending the outcome of Van der Lans vs. KLM. In his judgment the British Judge said ‘…a line should now be drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied.’

So, just what are the issues behind the Van der Lans case vs. KLM. It’s all about whether a technical problem that arises spontaneously (as opposed to one which is detected during routine maintenance) is an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004. Remember, extraordinary circumstances are the airline’s only defence against paying out flight delay compensation.

At the hearing KLM upheld that a technical defect is ‘unforeseeable’ and should therefore be deemed extraordinary and thus air passengers are not entitled to flight delay compensation. The airline maintained that it is unable to hold its suppliers liable for damages as warranties for parts are not provided. 

The EU judges then asked KLM where within Regulation 261 the relation between ‘unforeseeable’ and ‘extraordinary circumstances’ is described as they were unable to locate a reference. Unfortunately, KLM were unable to direct the judges to the reference and could not provide an answer to the question. The response from the EU judges was that airlines know that technical defects do happen so they cannot be seen as ‘unforeseeable’.

Other attendees in the court felt differently, the Dutch Government for example is pro-airline and maintains that technical defects that occur after the ‘pre-flight check’ and before take off are all extraordinary. In spite of this national view Dutch courts have ruled very differently in similar cases. The German Government on the other hand is pro-passenger and views that a technical defect due to corrosion is not extraordinary. The EU commission feels that it is a decision that needs to be made by the National Court of The Netherlands.

And the EUclaim view “The European Court of Justice did not seem to be impressed by KLM’s argument,” commented Adeline Noorderhaven, Manager EUclaim UK.   

A ruling by the European Court of Justice will follow, but it is expected that this will take at least 5 months.

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Evelien Kregting

#Christina Sorry to hear that Ryanair doesn’t give you any response anymore. Unfortunately, we can not help you with this matter. Maybe you can try to get in touch with them on Twitter? I wish you the best of luck and hopefully they will get back to you. ~ Evelien


Ryanair lost my luggage on the 17 of May 2015. They replied to my claims and said please bare with us as we have a lot of correspondence. I haven’t heard back from them since September. Whenever I called the customer service they logged my matter in and no one got back to me. Could anyone please advice me on what to do. Thank you!

Evelien Kregting

#Trevor Alfred Sorry to hear about you being ill. EUclaim can’t help you with this matter, because it doensn’t concerns a delay or denied boarding. I hope that the CAA can help you. Good luck!

Kind regards,

Evelien Kregting

Evelien Kregting

#J McNAB: The European Court of Justice already announced their ruling on the case. Do you have a claim with us?

Evelien Kregting

Trevor Alfred

I was unable to fly with Ryan Air due to falling ill some days before departure
My doctor gave me a medical certificate, which I emailed to the airline.
Despite this, they did not refund, offer another date, or refund of taxes which were paid at time of booking…I did not have travel insurance…Can anyone help or advise on this matter?. I have opened a case with the CAA now..
Do I have any rights for a refund or compensation?


We have also had a claim ( 6 hour delay on a 2 hour flight ) refused by Ryanair referring to the Van der Lans case. When is the ECJ going to publish a ruling ?

Lotte van 't Klooster

Let us know if you need any help with your cases! We’re happy to assist in any way.
Kind regards,

Lotte van ‘t Klooster

Andy Terry

I also have a claim against Ryanair – they say they are awaiting the Van der Lans v KLM decision.

Ken Macmillan

I have been unsuccessful thus far in a legitimate claim, on behalf of my wife, against Norwegian Air Shuttle who have refused to pay compensation pending the Van der Lans case .This has been ongoing since November 2014 .

James Thomsen

When will the airlines recognise the bottom line of the EC Regulation 261/2004 without regard to the event, is that they must have a contingency plan to cope with the long delay or cancellation within the timeframes of the regulation.

Pamela Crawshaw

Wish to follow this as waiting for compensation from Ryanair who say they do not owe me any as it was a technical fault.

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