Suspect a company has financial difficulties? Careful what you say.

A libel case on Maricom is a first, but Flymenow v Quick Air Jet [2016] EWHC 3197 (QB), decided today by Warby J, is a salutary warning. Efficient German operation Quick Air Jet regularly chartered aircraft to English air ambulance operators Flymenow. Flymenow were slow in paying, spinning out the process for a long time and doing their best not to pay their suppliers before they themselves got paid. Exasperated, Quick Air Jet emailed others in their branch of the industry, saying:

“To Whom It May Concern. WARNING: Company you should not deal with! Pecuniary difficulties! … We consider that it is our duty to warn you against doing business with the following company as they are not able to pay outstanding amounts dated from July 2013. … FlyMeNow Limited is obviously incapable to pay their outstanding amounts in total. In this particular case for two ambulance flights they booked with our airline company in July and August 2013.”

The result was a writ for libel. The action succeeded on the basis that there was an unsubstantiated allegation of insolvency, and that there was no sufficient interest to raise any defence of qualified privilege. The only crumb of comfort for Quick Air Jet was Warby J’s holding that Flymenow, by paying slowly, had brought all this on themselves, and the consequent decision to award an effectively nominal £10 damages. Nevertheless, the moral is obvious for (for example) disponent owners with suspicions about time charterers: be very very careful what you say, and limit it to allegations of won’t pay rather than can’t pay.

New Book on Air Cargo Insurance published by Professor M Clarke and Dr G Leloudas

The most recent addition in the list of publications of IISTL members is the book entitled “Air Cargo Insurance” by Associate Professor George Leloudas and Professor Malcolm Clarke.

This exciting new book is the only one on the market that deals exclusively with air cargo insurance, and will therefore, be a vital addition to the collection of any practitioner, professional or academic working in the field. The book analyses the model policies and standard terms and conditions of air cargo insurance used in the London markets. The authors also provide readers with an invaluable perspective on cases in other jurisdictions, and the book discusses freight forwarders’ relations with airlines and addresses the possibility of recovery from third parties.

Clarke & Leloudas - Air Cargo Insurance

An airline manager’s lot is not a happy one

Under EC Regulation 261/2004 Easyjet has gone down for 400€ in Scotland over a 6-hour delay due to air traffic control problems. Although the Sheriff was satisfied that the problems amounted to “extraordinary circumstances” he was not satisfied that Easyjet had taken all reasonable steps to avoid their effects. In particular he thought that they might have had more spare aircraft available, and was unimpressed with the fact that all the spares which Easyjet might have deployed mysteriously suffered from “unexpected flight safety shortcomings”.

See DUNBAR v EASYJET AIRLINE CO LTD [2015] ScotSC 70 (04 November 2015), available on BAILII.