Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -


My son missed a flight from Heathrow be­cause of a crash on the mo­tor­way. The bus he was trav­el­ling on was hours late. Who bears fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and what should one do if an ac­ci­dent causes one to miss a flight? Matt D


Legally speak­ing, there are two pos­si­ble av­enues to con­sider – nei­ther of which is likely to be very pro­duc­tive.

First, if a driver can be found neg­li­gent for caus­ing the ac­ci­dent, you might imag­ine your son has a claim against his or her in­surer, but such a claim is not likely to suc­ceed. The rea­son is, there was no in­jury to your son, nor dam­age to prop­erty he owned. That is the test the courts set.

Next, could there be a breach of con­tract claim against the bus com­pany for fail­ing to get him to the air­port at the spec­i­fied time? I have been look­ing at the terms and con­di­tions for Na­tional Ex­press. They say: “We rec­om­mend you al­low at least 180 min­utes be­tween the ser­vice sched­uled ar­rival time and your flight de­par­ture time.”

Your son may have al­lowed the rec­om­mended three hours, but even though he did, the firm warns: “We will not be re­spon­si­ble for costs caused by cir­cum­stances beyond our con­trol.”

Had the driver failed to “pro­vide the ser­vice with rea­son­able skill and care”, for ex­am­ple by get­ting lost, then a claim un­der the Con­sumer Rights Act might be pos­si­ble. How­ever, I sense the driver was in full con­trol and was un­able to get to the air­port be­cause of the clo­sure of the mo­tor­way.

As one of the lawyers I talked to said: “You would usu­ally ex­pect some­one to take out travel in­sur­ance to cover this type of loss.”

I hope this ap­plies to your son.

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