Lawyer in you (Tips 11-15)
Tip 11. Avia tricks: what if carrier violates?
What are the rights of passenger who was denied boarding, or in case of cancelation or significant delay of the flight, reduce in the class of service? In general such passenger has a right to compensation, refund of the tickets’ price or offer of alternative flight. In case of compensation for air travel the Air Code of Ukraine refers to the rules (instructions, standards) of a carrier. Such rules shall contain the size and order of compensation and shall comply with the requirements of international and domestic standards, be approved by the authorized state body.
If the carrier doesn’t show the rules, one can remember about the minimum requirements, which the carrier cannot decrease. What is the minimum compensation required by law? Before August 2010 special rules for air transport of passengers were in force in Ukraine; now one needs to refer to the Air Code of Ukraine (Articles 103-107, http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/3393-17).
What does the code define?
Case 1. If the carrier refuses to transport (Article 104), it may first try to identify those who agree to give up the booked flight on the carrier’s conditions (for reward or without it). In this case the carrier either returns the cost of the ticket within seven days, or offers a different flight. The passenger, not the carrier, makes this choice (refund or another flight).
The carrier may refuse to transport those, who disagree to give up the booked flight, but upon compensation from 250 to 600 Euros (depending on the distance of the flight) for each ticket. This amount may be reduced by 2 times if the carrier will offer another flight with delay up to 2-4 hours. In addition to compensation, the carrier must return the ticket price in 7 days or offer another flight.
Case 2. If the flight is cancelled (Article 105 of the Air Code of Ukraine), the rules are the same as in Case 1. Exception: if the carrier warned of cancellation up to 2 weeks before the flight or offered another flight (with delayed arrival up to 2-4 hours depending on the distance of the flight), no compensation is paid.
Compensation will not be paid if the carrier proves that the cancellation of the flight was an emergency or force majeure, which could not be prevented. It should be noted that the confirmation of force majeure in Ukraine is given by the competent authority (the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry), and not the air carrier or anyone else.
Both in Case 1 and Case 2, if the passenger chooses another flight, the carrier shall ensure:
• Meals and refreshments while waiting for a new flight,
• Hotel if you need to wait for a night or more, and transfer hotel-airport-hotel,
• Two telephone calls or email (if available at the airport).
Case 3. If there was a flight delay (Article 106 of the Air Code of Ukraine) for more than 2-5 hours, depending on the distance of the flight, the carrier shall offer passengers meals, refreshments and ensure 2 telephone calls or email (if available at the airport). If the delay is more than 5 hours the carrier shall offer a refund (7 days) or another flight (passenger makes this choice).
Case 4: If there was a change of class of service, the carrier compensates from 30% to 75% of the air fare (during 7 days). But if a passenger was put in a class higher than paid for, no additional payments may be charged.
The carrier, of course, is responsible for the harm caused to the passenger on board of the aircraft or during embarkation/disembarkation, except when the damage was caused by the negligence, wrongful acts or omissions of the passenger.
The topic of luggage deserves a separate tip.
Tip 12: Old codes of economic activities will not be automatically changed to new codes of economic activities
Natural persons-entrepreneurs and legal entities of Ukraine have to change codes of economic activities (of 2005) to new ones (of 2010)! Do it when there are small queues.
When there are small queues? One can inquire from the local authority or assume that in summer or close to holidays the queues are smaller.
Also, if you visit a state authority in Ukraine (not just for the above mentioned change) find out in advance a list of documents, copies and necessity of their certification (who signs, who stamps), as well as what forms and templates (for inquiries, applications, etc.) you need. It is better to download templates from the website of a state authority (there are usually no templates available in place). As the requirements of various officials to complete the forms and templates in our country are not always the same, blank forms may be very useful.
It is worth mentioning that according to the Order of the Ministry of Economic № 113 of 07/02/2013 old codes (2005) are considered in force until 31.12.2013. And if codes were not changed in time, that is no reason to consider, for example, Certificate of single tax payer invalid and not a reason for refusal to issue such certificate (see the Letter of State Tax Service of 13.12.2012, the № 11394/0/71-12/17- 1217).
Enclosed is some explanations related to changing old codes of economic activities to new ones: http://www.drsu.gov.ua/show/1595 Good luck!
Tip 13: Communication with officials? Use your force!
When dealing with state officials in Ukraine remember that their powers are severely restricted by the laws, orders and instructions. That is, they can act strictly according to the rules, with no unauthorized activity. They cannot require a person to do something that they are not directly instructed to require. And clear deadlines are usually set as regards their actions (responses).
Therefore, if the issue is important and there is a suspicion on possible abuses by an official, find out (in advance) how his activity regarding the matter is regulated (for example here: http://zakon1.rada.gov.ua/laws). When you find the right act, and it will be terribly large, search the clue words related to liability, prohibition etc.
But do not take every official as an enemy, perhaps your courtesy, patience and a good attitude will help more than any law.
Tip 14: Pleasant communication with police
Fortunately, my communication with the police was within the law, but as for myself and for everyone who cares about this issue, I have collected a few simple tips. Here they are:
• Trying to escape or resist can only make everything worse, as well as an attempt to pressure or be rude.
• Police may stop anyone who looks suspicious to check their documents. So better carry identification documents (passport, driver's license) to evade getting to the police department for verification of your identity (for 3 hours).
• When asked to go to the police office you may ask the reason, the address of the police office, name and title of the policeman who asked you to follow him and tell all this information to your friends or family.
• Personal inspection and examination of things may take place in the presence of witnesses, who are not police officers (otherwise all the evidence found during the inspection is considered illegal) and be reflected in a protocol. Carefully: if you do not wish to find unexpected things in your pockets better show the pockets yourself. If something was put in your pockets, do not touch it with your hands! Without your fingerprints on those things it may be complicated to prove that the thing was yours. Personal inspection of a person can be carried out by a police officer of the same sex.
• If you end up with a protocol, be sure to read it to the letter, write comments, missing facts. Sign only after doing this.
• In case if money and/or personal belongings were seized, they should be described in great detail (write the number of banknotes).
• If you are forced to write a confession (there is reason to fear physical pressure), write it so that if you read it carefully it became clear that it was written under duress (you can include unrealistic details which cannot be checked quickly).
• If there was physical violence, it is necessary to specify it in the protocol (in detail), then go to the doctor and through a forensic examination. Write a complaint to a prosecutor.
I wish you only have pleasant communication with the police ... or none at all.
Tip 15: Search for regulations
Not everything can be found on the Internet (yet), but most of the regulations are available to any user who knows where to look.
Legislative acts of Ukraine are available here: http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws
Draft laws: http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/radac/pd_index_n
Also you can search here: http://search.ligazakon.ua/ (sometimes for a fee)
These sources can be trusted (almost always), and they provide useful attendant services (document details, related documents).
Do not forget to verify whether the act is in force: this information can be found at the top of the page document.