“A go-to set for aviation disputes, with a wide range of excellent barristers at all levels”

The Legal 500 UK Bar

XXIV Old Building’s barristers have extensive capability and experience in aviation disputes, covering the full spectrum of commercial, consumer and regulatory issues in relation to both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.  They also have significant experience of travel disputes.

Many members have particular experience in a wide range of technical matters, and understand the complexities and nuances relating to aircraft maintenance regimes and engineering claims. In addition, they can call upon their significant expertise in areas such as insolvency and civil fraud where aviation disputes overlap with other areas.

Our members regularly act for flagship and major airlines, airport operators, ground handlers, aircraft and engine lessors and lessees, manufacturers, travel agents, and regulators, in aviation litigation and arbitration.  Some members also have experience of inquests following fatal air accidents.

Our barristers can provide specialist advocacy and advice on:

  • Operating and finance leases, wet and dry leases, forfeiture, aircraft repossession, and return conditions
  • Ownership, title, aircraft mortgages and other securities
  • Issues relating to the manufacture, maintenance, repair and storage of aircraft, engines and their components
  • Product liability and negligence claims
  • Fatal accident claims
  • Insurance and reinsurance claims
  • Claims under EU Regulation 261/2004, and cargo claims under the Montreal Convention
  • Commercial issues relating to drones
  • Air charters and seat sale agreements and issues relating to travel agents
  • Aircraft crew management software
  • Airport operations
  • Airline insolvency proceedings

Our expertise is evidenced by the wealth of significant disputes in which our members are instructed. Although many matters are confidential, the cases below provide a flavour of the service offering provided by specialist aviation barristers at XXIV Old Buildings.

    • Russian Aircraft Operator Policy Claims: Bajul Shah acts for various reinsurers in claims brought by aircraft lessors in England pursuant to aircraft operator insurance policies and reinsurance policies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
    • Claim against Leonardo from fatal helicopter crash at Leicester City FC (2024): Bajul Shah acts for the family of the former chair of Leicester City FC in a product liability claim against the manufacturer of an AW169 helicopter which crashed in 2018 shortly after take-off, killing all on board.
    • Optimares SpA v Qatar Airways Group QCSC [2022] EWHC 2461 (Comm): Edward Cumming KC acts for Qatar Airways in these ongoing Commercial Court proceedings, in which more than US$100m is in dispute, regarding the airline’s decision to terminate orders for new seats and associated equipment for a significant proportion of its fleet.
    • GASL Ireland Leasing A-1 Limited v SpiceJet Limited [2023] EWHC 1107 (Comm): Erin Hitchens acts for the lessee against the airline concerning claims for breaches of redelivery conditions.
    • Qatar Airways v Airbus: Bajul Shah acts for Qatar Airlines in a dispute with Airbus concerning peeling paint of A350 aircraft, with the airline seeking compensation after being forced to ground many of its fleet, alleging that this constituted a safety issue, a claim which Airbus denied.
    • AELF MSN 242, LLC v Surinam Airways [2021] EWHC 3482 (Comm); [2022] EWHC 544 (Comm): Tom Stewart Coats acted for Surinam Airways in a $7m claim in the Commercial Court arising out of an aircraft lease agreement, which generated two important judgments on submission to the jurisdiction and service of proceedings on a state-owned carrier under the State Immunity Act 1978.
    • CALC v Air India: Arshad Ghaffar acted in this successful claim for c.$18m against the flag carrier lessor Air India.
    • Ross Leasing Limited v Nile Air: Erin Hitchens acted for an aircraft leasing company concerning outstanding aircraft leasing payments. The subsequent third party debt order application against IATA has become the leading authority on such applications where the arrangement with the third party is governed by an exclusive jurisdiction clause.
    • Pakistan International Airline Corporation v Times Travel (UK) Ltd [2021] UKSC 40: Heather Murphy acted in this leading Supreme Court case on lawful act economic duress and the subsequent appeal which resulted in successfully obtained a High Court judgment requiring PIAC to pay the claimants £5million of unpaid commission and interest.
    • NAS Air Company v Genesis Ireland Aviation Trading 3 Limited: Edward Cumming KC and Erin Hitchens acted for an aircraft leasing company successfully defending a claim by an airline for maintenance contributions in a total sum of US$13 million allegedly arising under a lease and pursuing a counterclaim for breach of return conditions.
    • Walton Family Estates v GJD Services [2021] EWHC 88 (Comm) and [2021] EWHC 464 (Comm). In this novel and successful claim by Adam Cloherty KC and Alex Peplow, they acted for the aerodrome owner to ‘evict’ 747s, Tristars and other aircraft parked unlawfully on the airfield.
    • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd v Lufthansa Technik AG [2020] EWHC 1789 (Ch): Steven Thompson KC acted for the successful claimant in a claim relating to financial conditions following the end of a long-term aircraft engine maintenance contract.
    • Olympic Airlines (in special liquidation) v ACG Acquisition XX LLC [2013] EWCA 369 and [2012] EWHC 1070 (Comm): Edward Cumming KC  acted in this matter which was the first case to consider the meaning of ‘airworthiness’ of an aircraft, and also the first case in which a court has refused summary judgment for rent despite the lessee having signed a certificate of acceptance.
    • Blue Sky One Ltd & Ors v Blue Airways LLC [2009] EWHC 3314 (Comm): Bajul Shah acted in this claim for the delivery up of 3 Boeing 747-400 aircraft against an Iranian Airline, the dispute turning on whether the aircraft were acquired as a front for an Iranian airline in an attempt to get around US sanctions on Iran.