Air Canada and small claims court

Old Apr 14, 05, 4:26 pm
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Air Canada and small claims court

I have absolutely NO reason to take anyone to court - pretty happy lately with both Air Canada and Aeroplan - just asking the legal beagles on the forum on their opinion.

Say you have a beef if something untoward happened to you while flying Air Canada (say a screwed up flight which causes you all kinds of grief) or something with Aeroplan which remained unsolved, could you take them to small claims court?

Say you lived in Whitehorse could you file there and would an Air Canada rep have to attend in Whitehorse or? If the amount is small - say $1,000 - would they bother defending themselves?
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Old Apr 14, 05, 6:55 pm
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Yes, as long as they were doing business in your jurisdiction, which for AC, means anywhere in the country. You would also have to have a connection with the province/territory where you file(eg.you reside there).


Originally Posted by Yukonprince
I have absolutely NO reason to take anyone to court - pretty happy lately with both Air Canada and Aeroplan - just asking the legal beagles on the forum on their opinion.

Say you have a beef if something untoward happened to you while flying Air Canada (say a screwed up flight which causes you all kinds of grief) or something with Aeroplan which remained unsolved, could you take them to small claims court?

Say you lived in Whitehorse could you file there and would an Air Canada rep have to attend in Whitehorse or? If the amount is small - say $1,000 - would they bother defending themselves?
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Old Apr 14, 05, 7:00 pm
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Originally Posted by yhzflyer
Yes, as long as they were doing business in your jurisdiction, which for AC, means anywhere in the country. You would also have to have a connection with the province/territory where you file(eg.you reside there).

Please! before you do yourself any economic damage, please read the 'fine print' of your ticket. Unfortunatly, depending on the fact situation, you may be completly out of luck!

Cheers.
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Old Apr 14, 05, 7:50 pm
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Anyone can take anyone/entity to small claims court in BC. A settlement hearing is called, happens in front of a judge, he judge does not pass judgement or make decisions, he/she tries to find some common ground, basically trying to keep it out of the main stream court system. The judge wil encourage the parties to figure things out between themselves. If their is no hope of settlement, the judge explains that the next step in BC Supreme Court, a trial, likely won't happen for a long time, huge expense incurred.... In other words tries to dissuade the two parties from going that route.
As to AC flying in a lawyer or rep, highly unlikely. Both times I was in small claimes court, I was the defendant, being represented by a Vancouver E&O lawyer who was their by way of speaker phone. In both cases the plaintiffs ran with their tails between their legs when they realised the possible ramifications of frivolous suits.
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Old Apr 15, 05, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Yukonprince
Say you lived in Whitehorse could you file there and would an Air Canada rep have to attend in Whitehorse or? If the amount is small - say $1,000 - would they bother defending themselves?
Having once appeared in small claims court on behalf of a large multinational I can say that, yes they will attend and defend themselves quite aggressively. Generally this is done by a lawyer on retainer to the firm in the actual jurisdiction involved. Flying a lawyer in would be unusual since local talent is available at less cost and is more familiar with the local legal environment (judges, court proceedure, opposing counsel).

Most often small claims court is attended to by articling students who are paid notoriously little and, since they are fresh out of law school, can be extremely well prepared. Under those circumstances the economics do not favor those who fancy themselves to be Perry Mason.

As others have pointed out, read the fine print of your ticket. You will probably find something that specifies which jurisdiction you will have to fight your case in. Generally it is a forum convenient to the company (in this case Quebec).

Finally, if you do decide to sue in your hometown - you will have to prove service of your court papers on the corporation which involved more than simply putting a copy of your statement of claim in the mail.

Last edited by mballb; Apr 17, 05 at 11:24 am
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Old Apr 16, 05, 9:24 am
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In addition, I will add that if there is even the slightest cause to suspect that something untoward has happened regarding your purchase, say, perhaps, you suspect that you were wrongly charged, or your credit card used without authorization, by all means pursue this option, as well as avenues such as the better business bureau and consumer protection, but also contact the RCMP immediately. I have seen first hand many, many cases where the passenger knew themselves to have been ripped off, threatened, or even actually began to pursue legal actions, but never even considered contacting Canada's finest. In most of those cases, the RCMP should definitely have been brought in. Not even I realized that they were the ones who should have been contacted straight off the bat. It took a suggestion from someone at Transport Canada.
That said, the RCMP does have an existing file on certain Air Canada subsidiaries. This is a fact to which I can attest. I am sure that they would be interested in taking complaints involving any AC divisions, not just the one which you can already guess the name of. Likewise, having myself once gone the route of trying to deal with things of this nature through internal channels, I would recommend that employees not waste time taking that route, but go straight to the these guys. Internal complaints rely, just as external complaints do, on the complaint falling on a someone not involved in what's going on. The chances of that happening ain't good.
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Old Apr 16, 05, 2:25 pm
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Contacting the RCMP to resolve what essentially is usually, at best, a civil dispute? You have got to be kidding me......
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Old Apr 17, 05, 7:04 am
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The sad thing is, I think HB is not...

The RCMP will just have a farce. Frankly, and with all due respect, they have better things to do. You don't go to them unless you have to -- ie. as a last resort. Otherwise, you just waste taxpayer's dollars.

But I guess HB has no problem doing that.
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Old Apr 17, 05, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by the happy booker
That said, the RCMP does have an existing file on certain Air Canada subsidiaries. This is a fact to which I can attest.
I have a file like that too in my office...

It is round and has a large black plastic liner to prevent elements of the file falling out and messing the carpet. Oh, and I keep my old Tim Horton "roll up the rim" cups in there too.

Seriously, do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a police force, any police force, to investigate an alleged commercial crime? You have to do all the investigation, research and documentation...then maybe...just maybe they will charge.
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Old Apr 17, 05, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by mballb
As others have pointed out, read the fine print of your ticket. You will probably find something that specifies which jurisdiction you will have to fight your case in. Generally it is a forum convenient to the company (in this case Quebec).
.
Couldn't find a choice of law/forum clause on my ticket.
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Old Apr 17, 05, 11:19 pm
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You might also want to check on Quebec laws for small claims court, you might have to take it in Montreal (where Air Canada HQ is) in that case.

http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca

Also under Quebec law the big advantage for you is that lawyers are usually not permitted.
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Old Apr 1, 17, 9:42 pm
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Small claims court experience in the US

Originally Posted by Yukonprince View Post
I have absolutely NO reason to take anyone to court - pretty happy lately with both Air Canada and Aeroplan - just asking the legal beagles on the forum on their opinion.

Say you have a beef if something untoward happened to you while flying Air Canada (say a screwed up flight which causes you all kinds of grief) or something with Aeroplan which remained unsolved, could you take them to small claims court?

Say you lived in Whitehorse could you file there and would an Air Canada rep have to attend in Whitehorse or? If the amount is small - say $1,000 - would they bother defending themselves?
Take a look at the 1999 Montreal Convention which gives more rights to consumers. When I took AC to court, I had to pay a filing fee and I prepared materials myself. They sent a local lawyer who did a good job but I won on lots of points. I think the judge said I lost because he didn't want to persecute a big company with a lawyer in favor of me. In the US, you file locally which it says can be done in the 1999 Montreal Convention. Also that your lawyer's fees are paid if you win. That was my mistake. Also check out your local laws on consumer rights.

Canada has more of a negotiation process than the US, but hopefully it can deter companies who wrong their customers. Getting your money back is one thing but last minute replacement flights are expensive. AC gave me back taxes and fees because I didn't fly.
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Old Apr 1, 17, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by pitz View Post
Contacting the RCMP to resolve what essentially is usually, at best, a civil dispute? You have got to be kidding me......
I expect that it is an event that has overlapping actions. For example, an abusive FA can create an "assault" scenario when a threat or other form of intimidation is undertaken. The loss of luggage can also be treated as a theft, although police cannot usually be bothered to investigate. However, as we all know there have been theft rings at multiple airports in Canada and the airlines have not been good corporate citizens and reported the issue. Rather, the insurers who have been paying claims on baggage and cargo are the ones requiring a police report.
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Old Apr 1, 17, 10:51 pm
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Not sure it makes much sense to resurrect an antiquated thread but...

Originally Posted by sealedesign View Post
I think the judge said I lost because he didn't want to persecute a big company with a lawyer in favor of me.
I strongly disagree. If anything a court would find for the little guy against a powerful organization. I would bet they won not because they are a "big company" but because the law was on their side. Perhaps their lawyer did a reasonable job of getting that across, against a complaint that may have been more emotional than legally valid?

While of course in many circumstances large organizations might actually be in the wrong and behave as a bully. But then they would likely have the issue solved rather than letting it go to court if that's the option.

I have found that if I have a case, customer solutions i quick to step in and offer a reasonable resolution.
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Old Apr 1, 17, 11:46 pm
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You can sue up to 25K in small claims court in BC I believe.

I guess you could sue for such a low amount where it makes no sense for AC to expense such lawyer fees by flying someone to a remote area.

Though at times, you MAY have to sue in AC's jurisdiction if the company set out such language in terms of carriage. (I am not sure if its the case for AC, but for MSFT you must sue them in WA)
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