The Civil Aviation Authority’s appeal against the not-guilty ruling in the case against Travel Republic could be referred to the Supreme Court.
As the CAA began its appeal today at the Royal Courts of Justice, Justice Elias said the case was of such importance that it might be passed up the chain.
He said: “This is a matter of supreme importance to the travelling community. It could well be the case that it could up there (in the Supreme Court).”
Ian Croxford QC, legal counsel for the CAA, said he would support that decision.
“My client wants to get the law right and would prefer not to be left to a lottery. This is not the type of subject that should be kicked into the long grass. We would say if you are uncertain, then a referral would be appropriate.”
Earlier, Croxford argued that it was “curious and inappropriate” for the judge in the magistrates’ court to base his decision on the fact that the prosecution had failed to prove that Travel Republic was selling package holidays.
He added that the judge had failed to “embark on the task of applying the facts to the law”.
However, defence counsel for Travel Republic Nicholas Purnell said it would be”neither appropriate nor helpful” to refer the case to the Supeme Court, which could then refer it to the European Court.
He said the current Department for Transport review of the Atol scheme and the European reform of the Package Travel Directive would clarify the meaning of a package.
The CAA took legal action against Travel Republic last year over an alleged breach of Atol regulations.
A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court dismissed the charges in November. He said the prosecution had failed to prove that Travel Republic did anything other than “sell components of holidays separately, but at the same time”.
Earlier this year, the CAA decided not to pursue its appeal against the acquittal of Travel Republic managing director Kane Pirie.