Singapore

In Canadian court, Scoot wins test case over lost luggage

Budget carrier argues successfully that it should be sued in Singapore, not Canada

Budget carrier Scoot has prevailed in a test case in a Canadian court that involved three passengers claiming C$2,000 (S$2,080) each over lost luggage.

While Scoot did not contest that the luggage was lost, it argued that the suit should not have been brought in Canada and contested the quantum of the claims. A Montreal court ruled in its favour last month.

The case hinged on the passengers' contention that because they booked their Hong Kong to Singapore flights through Internet access from their residence in Quebec, they in turn could sue Scoot there.

They said this meant the airline had "a place of business" in the country and therefore what is known as the Montreal International Convention applied.

The convention refers to a treaty signed by 127 countries, including Canada and Singapore, that governs airline liability in the event of loss, injury or death, among other things.

COMPUTER SERVERS

Scoot accepted that the convention applied but argued that the damages claim should have been lodged either at its home base of Singapore, its principal place of business, which is Asia, or in Australia, where it has its computer servers.

The three passengers claimed they could sue Scoot in any country that ratified the convention.

The Court of Quebec accepted that the tickets were bought in the province over the Internet but ruled that Scoot did not have a "place of business" there under the Montreal convention.

Quebec was also not the destination of the passengers for the segment of the trip referred in the suit.

"It might be logical to consider that since Scoot Airlines earns revenues through a sale made from an Internet access in Quebec, it should also be liable for its fault or negligence in the province of Quebec.

"However, this is not what the Montreal International Convention says," wrote Justice Marie Michelle Lavigne in decision grounds.

She added that the court would "be going too far" if it interpreted "place of business" as being the passengers' computer used to buy the tickets.

"The courts cannot rewrite the law. It is the... Montreal International Convention that should make the appropriate changes", she said.

There was also a dispute over the compensation amounts sought.

Each passenger demanded the maximum that can be claimed under the convention - C$2,000.

But they did not provide invoices for their personal goods, just a list of items lost, which the court noted "more than likely appears to have exceeded the amounts claimed".

The judge dismissed the passengers' case without costs.

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