Recent Aviation Decisions from the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal

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The British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”) is Canada’s first online quasi-judicial tribunal. It employs a collaborative process for resolving certain legal claims with a value of up to $5,000 CAD. Since its inception, the CRT has issued several decisions relating to air passenger complaints. Two recent decisions of note are summarized below.

In Stark v. WestJet Airlines Ltd., 2024 BCCRT 64, the passenger experienced cancellation of her international flight in December 2022. Instead of waiting to be rebooked by the carrier, the passenger quickly requested a refund and rebooked herself onto another carrier. She later filed a CRT claim seeking $2,798.38 CAD for delay compensation pursuant to s. 19(1) of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, SOR/2019-150 (the “APPR”), refund of her alternate flight ticket, and reimbursement for hotel expenses. The carrier submitted that the Passenger was limited to recovering a refund of the unused portion of her ticket and compensation in the amount of $400 CAD pursuant to s. 19(2) of the APPR. The CRT agreed with the carrier. The Tribunal member noted, “the APPR and the tariff do not provide for compensation for accommodation or self-booked flights after the passenger requests a refund”. The decision also states that the carrier’s liability for damages under the Montreal Convention stopped when the passenger asked for a refund. The CRT awarded $245.92 CAD for refund of the unused ticket and $400 CAD in s. 19(2) APPR compensation, plus interest and half of the passenger’s filing fees.

In Printz v. WestJet Airlines Ltd., 2024 BCCRT 082, the passengers sought $2,807.35 CAD for partial refund of their vacation and out of pocket expenses incurred due to delayed baggage. The passengers initially filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency (the “CTA”), after which they filed a duplicate CRT dispute. The carrier submitted that the CRT dispute was an abuse of process because of the pre-existing and ongoing CTA complaint. In the alternative, the carrier argued that the passengers’ recovery should be limited to reasonable incidental expenses in the amount of $139.50 CAD. In response, the passengers argued that they were willing to withdraw their CTA complaint, and that the carrier should have raised the abuse of process argument earlier in the proceedings. The Tribunal found that the passengers “had the opportunity to consider it and to respond in their final reply submissions” but declined to do so. It was held that because the CTA complaint remained open and awaiting review, it was an abuse of process to bring the CRT dispute. The CRT refused to resolve the claim pursuant to s. 11(b) of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act.

These recent decisions underscore the intricate nature of aviation-related claims, navigating complex statutory, regulatory, and procedural frameworks before the CRT.

For more information please contact Allison Macdonald or a member of our Aviation Department.

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