Hamburg advocates for stronger passenger rights in air and rail travel

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Hamburg is taking a significant step to empower the rights of both air and rail passengers by addressing the substantial costs and bureaucratic challenges often associated with claiming compensation for travel disruptions. The proposal, slated for discussion at the upcoming Justizministerkonferenz (Justice Ministers Conference) on November 10, 2023, in Berlin, is a promising move towards making compensation claims more accessible and efficient for travelers. The initiative is also aimed at easing the burden on the courts that deal with passenger complaints.

Justice senator Anna Gallina's call for action

In a bid to support passengers, Justice Senator Anna Gallina from Hamburg is leading the charge for the rights of passengers in air and rail travel. Her proposal for the upcoming Justice Ministers Conference in Berlin seeks to make the enforcement of compensation claims more effective, all while lightening the load on the courts when dealing with passenger claims.

Justice Senator Gallina underscored the issues that travelers often face, saying, "When it comes to compensation claims, there are still significant costs and bureaucratic hurdles for both rail and air passengers. First, the frustration of delays and cancellations, and then the struggle for compensation – unfortunately, this is often the reality."

Simplifying the compensation process

The proposal from Hamburg is centered on advocating for legislative measures to streamline the process of enforcing existing compensation claims, making it more accessible and efficient for passengers. This initiative aligns with a growing trend across Europe, where governments and authorities are increasingly focusing on enhancing the rights and experiences of travelers.

Relieving the courts through automated compensation procedures

One of the key objectives of the proposal is to alleviate the caseload of courts handling passenger claims, primarily those involving flight delays. The growing number of lawsuits related to compensation has posed significant pressure on the judicial system. Senator Gallina emphasized the importance of improving the legal framework, stating, "We need to tighten the legal process in this regard."

Furthermore, the proposal encourages the implementation of automated compensation procedures, which was previously endorsed by the Justice Ministers Conference in 2020. These procedures would rely on Legal-Tech applications, mandatorily provided by both flight and rail companies. However, it is important to note that concrete legislative initiatives for automated compensation procedures at the federal and EU levels are yet to be fully developed.

Establishing claim centers for passenger compensation

The proposal also suggests that the federal Minister of Justice should take steps to eliminate practical barriers to claiming compensation. A significant issue, according to Hamburg's perspective, is the lack of accessible contact points for passengers within rail and air companies, particularly in the context of international bookings. To address this, transportation companies may be required to not only inform passengers about their rights but also designate a contact person, including a legal representative, for court-related matters.

A "civil law deterrence mechanism" for timely payments

Additionally, Hamburg aims to provide stronger incentives for transportation companies to make prompt payments, even in straightforward cases. Senator Gallina emphasized the significance of timely payments, saying, "Even in clear-cut cases, it can happen that airlines delay payments, sometimes until legal action is taken. Many passengers are discouraged by this and eventually give up what is rightfully theirs."

To achieve this, the proposal calls for adaptations to civil law to encourage companies to make payments on time. The feasibility of implementing such a "civil law deterrence mechanism" at the national level or within the European Union is a subject for further examination.

Hamburg's efforts to strengthen passenger rights in air and rail travel represent a significant stride toward a more passenger-friendly and efficient system for seeking compensation for travel disruptions. These proposed changes are expected to have a positive impact on passengers, potentially reducing the barriers to claiming compensation and providing a smoother and more streamlined process for addressing travel-related inconveniences.

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About MYFLYRIGHT

MYFLYRIGHT is a legal tech company, specialized in the support of airline passengers affected by flight delays, flight cancellations, denied boarding, delayed or lost luggage and the refund of unused airline tickets. MYFLYRIGHT was founded 2016 in Hamburg, Germany. The company operates out of 3 offices, its headquarter in Hamburg and its branches in Prague, Czech Republic and Zaporizhia, Ukraine. Currently, MYFLYRIGHT employs a team of around 25 people working in Marketing, Operations, Legal, Customer Support and IT. The organization operates across 5 markets – Germany, United Kingdom, Romania, Austria, and Switzerland.

MYFLYRIGHT’s goal is to provide access to justice for all aviation passengers who experience irregularities in their flight transportation. Notably, 75% of all compensation requests submitted by passengers get rejected. Whereas, MYFLYRIGHT is able to successfully execute the applicable customer claims in more than 98% of cases at court.

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