Online Conference on Recent Developments in European Travel Law

The International Travel Law Network (ITLN), an association of lawyers specialising in travel law, organised an online conference on 27 March 2023 to discuss recent developments in European travel law.
The topics included

  • the right to terminate a package travel contract in case of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, in particular the relevance of travel warnings and the relevant point in time for a withdrawal;
  • the CJEU decision on price reduction claims in the event of impairment due to extraordinary circumstances;
  • current case law on travel law in Malta;
  • the current status of the revision of the Package Travel Directive by the EU Commission; and
  • the tour operator’s right of redress against service providers.

The event was attended by more than forty participants, including representatives of several tour operators. As the Austrian representative on the panel, Michael Wukoschitz chaired the discussion on the right of withdrawal. For media coverage, a representative of the magazine “Travel Weekly” took part.

A video recording of the conference is available on YouTube.

The fall of a passenger and a CJEU misstep

Following a referral by the Korneuburg Regional Court, the CJEU ruled in C-589/20 that a passenger’s fall “for no ascertainable reason” on a mobile staircase provided for passenger disembarkation, falls under the term “accident” as defined in Art 17 of the Montreal Convention (MC).

In his review of the ruling in the International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitaliyt Law (IJTTHL) Michael Wukoschitz sets out the case law of national courts of various jurisdictions (including non-European courts) on the definition of an accident under the MC, which until now has always required an external impact on the passenger. However, if the reason for the fall is “non-ascertainable”, there is no proof of such an impact. Although the Advocate General had also expressly referred to this requirement in his opinion, for the CJEU an “unforeseen, harmful and involuntary event” is sufficient for the existence of an accident – apparently regardless of what triggered it. The CJEU does not explain why it departs from decades of established case law in the MC Member States, leaving the practitioner rather perplexed.

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