Stewarts’ International Injury department has resolved a claim for damages brought by its client Matthew Cummings following proceedings in the High Court in England.

Mr Cummings suffered a career-ending injury while working as an Airbus 330 captain for Beijing Capital Airlines Co. Ltd (“BCA”). The injury occurred when Mr Cummings was travelling on the crew minibus from the crew hotel to the airport in Hangzhou on 26 September 2018.

Mr Cummings had been due to fly from Hangzhou to Sanya and then on to Beijing as part of his flying roster with BCA. When Mr Cummings boarded the minibus for the journey to the airport, the seatbelt on the only available rear seat did not have a shoulder strap. It was subsequently discovered that the strap had been cut off. During the journey, the minibus driver braked suddenly, causing Mr Cummings to be flung forward with his head and face striking the seat in front. He suffered injuries to his face and jaw, resulting in Mr Cummings requiring prolonged medical treatment and relying on pain medication. As a result, the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority withdrew his fit-to-fly certificate.

Mr Cummings started High Court proceedings in England in late 2021, with BCA subsequently challenging jurisdiction. In June 2022, BCA withdrew its challenge to jurisdiction and agreed to submit voluntarily to the case being heard in the High Court in London.

Mr Cummings’ case has now settled for an undisclosed sum. BCA has also provided Mr Cummings with a flying hours reference letter as part of the negotiated settlement.



Christopher Deacon, a partner in the International Injury department at Stewarts who represented Mr Cummings, commented: “The settlement follows a difficult period for our client following the loss of his aviation medical certificate and licence to fly as a result of this incident. Although the defendant in this case was our client’s former employer, it fought hard at each stage, continuing to deny liability and challenging Mr Cummings’ entitlement to damages. This added to the stress and uncertainty caused by this incident for Mr Cummings, which occurred while he was working for the airline in China.

“The case was further complicated by the application of Chinese law to determine liability for the incident and when assessing damages. We received invaluable input from Allen Fu and his team at Fangda Partners in Shanghai on the relevant provisions of Chinese law. It was a great pleasure working with them to navigate the complexities in Mr Cummings’ case, analysing their expert opinion to assess how the English court would approach the case and working to secure a compromise in light of this.

“I know that the successful resolution will enable Mr Cummings and his family to move forward positively and start rebuilding their lives as they contemplate what the future now holds. The impact of this incident shows how flying really is a vocation and that the impact of the loss of a pilot’s medical certificate means so much more to the individual than the loss of their livelihood.”

Mr Cummings commented: “I am pleased we have managed to reach a resolution, and I wish BCA well. Of course, I thank Stewarts and Chris for all their support. My medical consultant has also been brilliant and stuck with me throughout. He has always discussed every option with me and tried new treatments.”

Chris instructed Sarah Prager KC and Tom Yarrow of Deka Chambers.

The defendant airline was latterly represented by Wikborg Rein, who instructed Howard Palmer KC and Anna Hughes of 2TG.



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