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Italian Antitrust Authority, Ryanair case:

Flight cancellations, Italian Antitrust Authority opens an investigation on Ryanair for alleged unfair commercial practices.

Italian Antitrust Authority has opened an investigation on Ryanair for alleged unfair commercial practices violating the Consumer Code. According to the Authority, the numerous flight cancellations that have already occurred or that will take place in the coming weeks, as reported in the press, could constitute a breach of the duty of diligence set out in art. 20 of the Consumer Code, to the extent that they have been caused by foreseeable organizational and management problems, and not by random and exogenous circumstances outside of Ryanair’s control, ultimately leading to substantial inconvenience to consumers who had long planned their traveling schedules and thus booked and paid for their plane tickets.

In addition, the Antitrust Authority will also investigate the way in which Ryanair has informed passengers of the cancellation of their flight and suggested them the alternative solutions (reimbursement or change of the ticket), since consumers might have been misled about the existence, and therefore the exercise, of their right to financial compensation granted by Regulation EC 261/04 precisely in the event of flight cancellations.

The procedure opened by the Authority has the number PS10972.

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European Court of Justice, Ryanair case: the revenge of fair competition?

Ryanair employment contracts examined by the Court are drafted in English, subject to Irish law, with a jurisdiction clause providing that the Irish courts have jurisdiction. In those contracts, it was stipulated that the work of the employees concerned, as cabin crew, was regarded as being carried out in Ireland given that their duties are performed on board aircraft registered in that Member State. Those contracts nevertheless designate the Belgian Charleroi airport as the employees’ ‘home base’. Those employees start and end their working day at that airport, and they are contractually obliged to reside within an hour of their ‘home base’.

In that context, ECJ considers that, in disputes relating to their employment contracts, air crew members have the option of bringing proceedings before the courts of the place where they perform the essential part of their duties vis-à-vis their employer. Consequently, the national courts must determine that place in the light of all the relevant circumstances, an employee’s ‘home base’ being a significant indicator to that effect.

The Court states that a jurisdiction clause, concluded before the disputes arose, and seeking to prevent employees from bringing proceedings before courts which do however have jurisdiction under EU legislation in this field, is not enforceable against those employees.

The above said has been decided in joined Cases C-168/16 and C-169/16 on 14 September 2017.

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