In a dispute over canceled flights, a woman who represented herself in court by relying on contract law from 80 years ago defeated British Airways (BA).
Two return flights to Japan that Jennie Barber had scheduled to depart in May were canceled as a result of Covid regulations.
BA offered Ms. Barber travel vouchers, but she preferred a refund.
When BA refused, the student, who had only studied law up to A-level, dove into the books and won a full refund.
When you're. Going up against a company like British Airways as an ordinary person who is not a legal expert is intimidating, she said.
Nevertheless, she prevailed in court by contesting the airline company's position in light of the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts Act of 1943).
Because she was informed there were no refunds, Ms. Barber claimed she initially accepted the vouchers in March 2020, the first few weeks of the Covid restrictions, which were essentially store credits equal to the value of her flights.
She explained that she became frustrated because her preferred destination, Japan, did not reopen its borders to tourists as quickly as other countries, rendering the vouchers useless because she could not travel to the location she desired.
By December 2020, Japan was still closed, and she informed BA of this. She asked for a refund, but was denied.
The 30-year-old woman from Birmingham told the BBC that she spent 2021 attempting to persuade BA to change its mind. When that failed, she made the decision to file a lawsuit, starting the process in February 2022 before the case was heard in January of this year.
She discovered legislation stating that she was legally entitled to her money back during this time because the sale involved something that was impossible to deliver for no fault of her own. .
Travel restrictions to Japan, where Ms. Barber once resided, did not end until November 2022.
Ms. Barber claimed that she was motivated to act independently because she "didn't feel it was right" that voucher restrictions were in place while Japan remained closed.
She started doing research at her neighborhood library using her law A-level from City College in Coventry, where she learned about the legal framework she used to support her position.
On January 20, it was heard at Redditch Magistrates Court in Worcestershire, where Ms. Barber received an award of £2,523.42 to cover costs of travel, interest up to the date of the judgment, and flights. .
Ms. Barber has since joined several Facebook groups for those who have encountered a similar circumstance and has been actively sharing advice there.
"If I can secure refunds for more people. That, in my opinion, is the ideal result, she said.
During the pandemic, we were the first UK airline to give customers the unprecedented flexibility to change their plans by giving them vouchers for future travel, according to a statement from BA. " .
Customers may use travel vouchers issued up until September 2023, according to BA.
Gary Rycroft, a consumer attorney, stated: "It is really important for consumers to understand they do not have to accept vouchers, they are entitled to a full cash refund. When a business cancels a service that they have previously promised to provide.
"I am overjoyed that Jennie made the decision to investigate this case. She steadfastly upheld her legal rights despite being fully aware of them.