Risk areas, entry bans, quarantine requirements: the pandemic has upset many people’s vacation plans. The organizer is not always accommodating. Right? The Supreme Court examines that.
The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) is examining the conditions under which customers could cancel a package tour free of charge when Corona broke out. A decision is to be announced at 4 p.m., as the judges in Karlsruhe announced after the hearing on Tuesday morning.
But that doesn’t have to be a final judgement. The Senate is also toying with the idea of involving the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
It is the first Corona case in travel law that has reached the top civil judges. The plaintiff had booked a trip to Japan with a Munich tour operator for more than 6,000 euros, which was to take place in April 2020. On March 1, he withdrew from the trip because of the worsening situation and paid 25 percent cancellation costs, just under 1540 euros, in accordance with the contract. An entry ban was issued for Japan at the end of March. That’s why the man wants the money back.
When is money back?
There is only a legal right to free cancellation if “unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances” significantly affect the trip. It is disputed whether the point in time of the resignation is solely important or whether later developments should also be taken into account. So far, the courts have ruled differently. The BGH judges are now tending to also look at subsequent developments, as Chairman Klaus Bacher said. That would help the plaintiff: The Munich I Regional Court had agreed with the organizer because there was no travel warning on March 1, 2020 and the situation could have eased.
Because there are uniform rules for package tours at European level, it is unclear whether the German judges can decide the case alone. Austrian judges have submitted similar questions to the ECJ in Luxembourg. Bacher’s Senate is now faced with the decision of whether to go this route.