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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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My bank has successfully reclaimed the cost of some flights

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hi, my bank has successfully reclaimed the cost of some flights we were unable to take due to covid restriction. the merchant, using a chargeback. Now nearly 12 months later is trying to dispute the chargeback, stating we were not entitle to a refund and have given us 7 day to pay or they will start legal proceedings. where do we stand.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: sheffield uk.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: contacted the airline, citizens advice and the financial ombudsman.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The flights were purchased through a third party, DIRECT LINE FLIGHT and the airline was EASYJET.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

A bank can charge back money if your consumer rights were infringed or if the business breached the contract you had with them.
A situation where the pandemic meant you could not take the flight means the contract is likely to be void, due to "frustration", which is where one or both parties cannot comply with the contractual terms. So you will need to reply to the letter and invite them to drop the case against you.

If they sue you will need to defend the claim.

They will send a letter before action to you - which is required under the pre action protocol to give you the chance to avoid court action. They usually give you 14 days to pay before they will take civil court action.

If they do sue, you will receive court documents (a response pack) which you must complete and return to the court. It is a tick box exercise for the most part and there is a short section to write a defence which is easy enough though please feel free to come back to this site if you need any more help.

You should not ignore the court papers as if you do, the claimant will apply for judgment in default meaning they win and you would not be allowed to defend the claim.

A claim will also take 9-12 months to be decided at court. If you lost then you would get 14 days to pay the judgment before the claimant can enforce the order, and 30 days to pay in full before it is registered with credit agencies. The claimant cannot recover legal costs if they win, in a claim under £10K (a small claim), all they can claim are the court fees and interest.

If the claim has no merit then you have an option (after your defence is filed) to apply to strike the claim out. The court will consider an application if the claim has no merit, or is misconceived.

You should first invite the claimant to voluntarily discontinue their claim within 7 days if it gets to this point - tell them if they don't then you will apply to strike out and seek your costs if you are forced to do so. If you have no response or they reply and refuse then you could apply to strike out.

The application costs £255 but this is recoverable if your application succeeds. If you are on a low income, have low savings or in receipt of benefits then you can ask the court to waive the court fee. If you won the application, the claim is struck out.

The hearing (if the case gets that far) is likely to be held remotely, it's you, a district judge (who is a practising solicitor or barrister) and someone from the claimant company. The Judge decides and if you lost, you get 14 days to pay the sum. If paid in full within 30 days then nothing goes on your credit record. But certainly I think you would succeed in a defence, just to be clear. Given the fact the pandemic is serious enough to impact a contract for a flight.

I can assist you going forwards if it gets to the point they issue a claim. If you need a law firm to assist you to defend the claim, here is an example for you and they offer a fixed fee : https://stormcatcher.co.uk/practice-areas/dispute-resolution/small-claims-lawyer-service/

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
hi Jim, i have not read all the way trough your response yet but just an add on, its states in there t's and c's that our contract is with the airline, but the chargeback was still successful.

Thanks, ***** ***** was taken from the third party - I presume you paid them and they in turn book the flight with Easyjet. Your contract should be with the third party and also the airline - the airline would owe the third party the money if you were unable to go on the flight due to the pandemic. They should not be pursuing you - they should pursue Easyjet in my view.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
ours was a strange situation, the flight went as scheduled but Cyprus were not letting uk residents in, we received an email from Easyjet with a list of the criteria we had to meet to be allowed to fly, these were basically Cyprian national or military. it stated on the email if we did not meet the criteria do not even travel to the airport. All the other flights in july were cancelled and they move everyone that was eligible to fly onto our flight. When we contacted Easyjet they just said we were a no show and were not entitled to a refund as the service was provided because flight went.

Thanks, ***** ***** in the wrong as they said to not travel to the airport (their email) yet they mark you down as a no-show afterwards and then refuse the refund. That is unreasonable in the extreme so my view is you have a strong defence (if they try to pursue a small claim against you).

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
the only trouble is, it would be Directline flight that would trying to take us to court not Easyjet.

Yes, you paid Directline and they lost money due to the chargeback - they need to pursue the airline and not yourself in my view.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
they still state that our contract as it states in the t's and c's is with easyjet.

Thanks, ***** ***** need to defend the claim as you paid Directline - when you pay them, you enter in to a contract with them. You do have a contract with Directline

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
whats would you suggest is our next step. the letter to direct line to try to Holt proceedings.

Yes, you should reply to them as the courts expect parties to communicate to try and avoid court action. Just a simple reply to them is all that is required

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
we have only had email from them, does it need to be a formal letter from them to start action and should we state that we think there has been a breach of contract.
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
the disputed sum is over £3000 so as you can imagine, we've had a few sleepless nights.

Yes they need to send you a letter before action and that needs to then give you 14 days, not 7. You should say the contract is void due to frustration, given Covid. The European Commission made an announcement last year about the fact airlines should refund customers if they are unable to travel.
£3000 means it's a small claim - so they can claim that plus the court fees (£115 for the issue fee and £170 for the hearing fee). And interest at 8%. That's it though - they cannot recover solicitors costs if they win.
I do not think they will win just to be clear.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
thanks again for your help, if i need to get back in touch can i just restart this chat with you. thanks again you've been a great help

My pleasure, thank you

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