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Mr Justice Peter Smith recuses himself from British Airways air-cargo case

24/07/15

Following an application by British Airways, Mr Justice Peter Smith has recused himself as Judge in the long running Emerald v British Airways proceedings. BA's application was supported by the majority of the Part 20 Airline Defendants.  

The recusal followed a series of email exchanges from the Judge to British Airways in relation to a flight he had made from Florence to London on the British Airways affiliate Vueling, following which the luggage of the Judge (and all the passengers on the flight) had failed to arrive.  In his emails, the Judge alleged that BA had taken a deliberate decision not to carry the passengers' luggage and suggested that this may have been in order to make additional profit from the conveyance of cargo on that flight. He wrote to the Chief Executive of BA, signing his email 'Mr Justice Peter Smith', and invited the CEO to contact Slaughter and May, their lawyers in the Emerald litigation.

The Judge's recusal followed a hearing of British Airways’ recusal application on 21 July 2015. At the hearing the Judge repeatedly asked counsel for BA what had happened to his luggage.  In his judgment, he described in detail his treatment at the hands of BA/Vueling on his Florence flight.  He stated that he did not accept there was any appearance of bias that would justify a recusal. However, the Judge held that he would recuse himself in any event, in summary, because he considered that the matter was a distraction to the progress of the case.

The recusal judgment may be found here.

The Part 20 Airlines supporting the application were represented at the recusal hearing by Daniel Jowell QC.

The Part 20 Airlines are individually represented on other aspects of the proceedings by a number of members of Brick Court Chambers including Charles Hollander QC, Aidan Robertson QC, Marie Demetriou QC, Kelyn Bacon QC, Maya Lester, Colin West, Sarah Ford, Tony Singla, Fred Hobson, David Bailey, Tim Johnston, and Hugo Leith