The relationship between the passenger and the airline or ticketing company is governed by a contract. Contracts are governed by some certain fundamentals which over the years have had the force of law and such are applied in relationships between two or more people wherein they intend that the terms of such a relationship would have a binding effect on them.
Thus the relationship between the passenger and the airline company is contractual and such a contract is entered the moment a passenger subscribes to be a passenger of an airline or gives his/her goods to be transported by air from one destination to another.
Before the advent of information technology or what is popularly known as ‘internet’, passengers subscribe to a hard copy of tickets or receipt upon payment of a prescribed fee for seats in an airplane that is run by a particular airline, but these days one makes the entire transaction of purchasing flight ticket within the comfort of his phone. Suffice it to say that, the whole trunk of that transaction is multifaceted which includes a third party i.e the banks and the internet service providers and sometimes ticketing agents. All these multidimensional layers are governed by the law of contract.
When you purchase a ticket, embedded
within the ticket are terms and conditions of carriage by air, either of goods or persons. Thus every contract must possess the following terms;
- Offer 2. Acceptance 3. Consideration 4. Intention to enter into a legal relationship.
A legal contract is created when two or more persons agreed to transact or render a particular service to the benefit of each other. This can be through offer and acceptance under the law of contract the person willing to render the required service is called offeror while the other person whom the service is rendered to is called the offeree.
The modes in which such service will be accepted are either by express or implied acceptance and when acceptance took place, it means legal parties to the contract are bound by the terms and conditions of the contract.
Therefore we urge all esteemed customers (passengers) to take time to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions on the passenger’s flight ticket as it is the basis of entering a legal contract with the service provider.
The terms and conditions that appeared either at the website of the service provider while purchasing a trip ticket or on the flight ticket issued are a legal agreement between a service provider and a person who wants to use that service. The person must agree to abide by the terms of service to use the service. At times terms of service can also be a mere disclaimer to the same liabilities.
The need to read and understand the terms and conditions (T&C) on the site of airline companies or flight ticket, before ticking the agree box is paramount to every passenger. Haste not, take time to read as if you are reading a love letter.
In the case of Air France & Anor. V. Mrs. Chinyere Owualah (2018) LPELR (CA), the Court of Appeal per Gorge will JCA, states that “indeed, in law parties are bound by the terms of their contract once there is consensus ad idem by the parties as to the term and conditions. This brings to remembrance the evergreen words of Sir Jessel … where he aptly states inter alia thus: “if there is one thing more than another which public policy requires is that men of full age and competent understanding shall have the utmost liberty of contracting and that their contracts, when entered freely and voluntarily, shall be held sacred and shall be enforced by courts of justice”.
We shall in subsequent bulletin go into the details of the above mentioned legal relationship between passenger and the airline companies.
Ibrahim A. Buba Esq is the Principal Partner at Buba Partners, Solicitors, and Notary Public, Kano-Nigeria.