Aviation litigation and regulation

Our team of highly talented aviation litigators bring to the table a genuine in-depth knowledge and understanding of the aviation industry, which, when combined with a practical hands-on approach, and high levels of legal expertise, enables us to deliver the commercial outcome our clients are looking for, effectively and cost efficiently.

Visit our aviation hub.
  • Profile
  • Experience
  • Key contacts

In our team, we have decades of accumulated experience acting for:

  • airlines
  • lessors
  • financiers and the major transportation banks
  • insurers
  • maintenance repair and overhaul organisations
  • airports
  • airline associations.

This experience means our aviation litigation lawyers have a 360 degree understanding of how the aviation industry works, and can leverage that knowledge and experience to the benefit of clients without any re-invention of wheels or cost inefficiencies.

Our approach is driven by listening to our clients’ commercial objectives, making sure we understand what it is they want to achieve, within what timeframe, at what cost, and resourcing the job with the right team.

Our aviation litigation team is regarded by the legal directories as one of the leading teams in the UK. We have dealt with all types of disputes, in English and foreign courts, and in domestic and foreign international arbitration proceedings, ranging from redelivery disputes and repossessions to commercial disputes with third party suppliers and major accidents and incidents. We are also regularly called upon to give advice on regulatory issues affecting airlines, including by way of example EC 261 claims, state aid, competition, foreign ownership rules, and EU blacklisting.

"Stephenson Harwood stands out as a firm specialised in aviation and one of the top firms in London."
Chambers UK 2022

Covid-19 and sanctions

Advising a number of airlines and lessors on payment and other events of default, payment deferrals, lease extensions, restructuring of lease terms, grounding notices, repossession options and lease termination and enforcement.

Redelivery disputes

Acted for numerous lessors and airlines in redelivery disputes litigated in the High Court in London and in international arbitrations involving return conditions of both engines and airframes, maintenance reserves, LLP values, qualification of shop visits, ”fair wear and tear” exceptions, back to birth traceability of records, engine thrust upgrades etc.


Advised on compliance with various EU Regulations, and equivalent retained legislation in the UK post-Brexit, including ETS, EC Reg 1008/2008, the PRM Regulation, state aid, consumer protection legislation, competition cartel and alliance issues, price fixing investigations, disputes with airports, slots advice and transfers, EU blacklist work and regulatory safety compliance, ground handling disputes.

Airline regulation

Advised on numerous regulatory issues including judicial reviews of the UK Government's 'traffic light' system and of the CAA's amendment of ACP 1324 (policy for ADR applicants and approved ADR entities), as well as EC 261 claims at appeal level, including acting for Ryanair in the enforcement action brought by the CAA in relation to delays suffered as a result of crew strikes in the summer of 2018. We have also advised major European airlines on issues relating to Part-145 and Part CAMO.

Accident and major air disaster investigations

Acted on numerous accident investigations, major air disasters-including the Lockerbie investigation and trial, and other high profile accidents and incidents.

Suppliers and manufacturers disputes

Acted in commercial disputes for airlines against all manner of suppliers, OEMs and manufacturers.

Restructuring and insolvency

Acted for both lessors and airlines on repossessions, restructuring and insolvency disputes.

Late aircraft redelivery

Acted in the landmark Commercial Court case of Pindell and BBAM v Air Asia concerning claims brought by lessor for the loss of an onward sale contract arising from the late redelivery of the aircraft.

Deep vein thrombosis litigation

Acted for airlines in the worldwide deep vein thrombosis litigation brought by claimants in the UK, US and Australia.

Latest news & insights

12 Jul 2024

From Insights

Airspeed read - Lipton v BA Cityflyer Ltd [2024] UKSC 24: pilot illness and the continuing erosion of "extraordinary circumstances"

On Wednesday 10 July 2024 the UK Supreme Court handed down its highly anticipated judgment in Lipton v BA Cityflyer Ltd, which concerned a claim for compensation under..


23 Apr 2024

From Insights

Putting it Planely with Stephenson Harwood's aviation litigation and regulation team

The team has launched this podcast series to discuss key topical issues in the aviation sector, and to share their insight on how to tackle them.


20 Mar 2024

From Insights

Aviation safety: Analysing the 2023 IATA Annual Safety Report and 2024 accidents to date

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released its annual safety report and recommendations for air accident prevention by way of the IATA Annual..


08 Feb 2024

From Insights

One small step closer: the UK's first fully licensed vertical spaceport

In December 2023, the UK Civil Aviation Authority ("CAA") issued a vertical launch licence to the SaxaVord spaceport in Shetland. SaxaVord now holds the very first ver..


05 Sep 2023

From Insights

Ready for lift-off? House of Commons committee publishes review of UK's launch licensing regime

This article looks at the most pressing issues identified in the report, relevant evidence provided by some key players in the UK industry, and the recommendations sug..


20 Jul 2023

From Insights

Aviation team attend IAWA European Leadership Forum

Rupali Sharma and Lucy Moseley of the aviation litigation and regulation team attended the IAWA European Leadership Forum in Amsterdam on 22 to 23 June.


17 Jul 2023

From Insights

Update: DfT response to consultation on Aviation Consumer Policy Reform

In January 2022 the UK Department for Transport ("DfT") launched a consultation on Aviation Consumer Policy Reform.


06 Jun 2023

From Insights

Digitalising borders: ETIAS and ETA

The European Union's (the "EU") long-standing ambition to strengthen the security of the Schengen area has been delayed once again.


07 Mar 2023

From Insights

UK aviation and competition authorities publish joint warning letter to airport operators following concerns of suspected anti-competitive practices

On 26 January 2023, the Competition & Markets Authority ("CMA") and the Civil Aviation Authority ("CAA") published a joint open 'warning' letter reminding UK airport o..


30 Jan 2023

From Insights

Aviation regulatory update 2022/2023

Developments in aviation regulation


25 Nov 2022

From Insights

COP27 and the flight path to Net Zero: progress made by the aviation industry since COP26

Following the conclusion of COP27 in Egypt last week, we examine the progress made by the aviation industry over the last year since COP26, with a particular focus on ..


08 Aug 2022

From Insights

Aviation is facing a rising wave of cyber-attacks in the wake of COVID

In this article we look at recent examples of serious cyber-attacks on the aviation industry and consider what these can tell us about current trends in cybercrime, as..


04 May 2022

From Insights

New House of Commons Report proposes significant aviation sector reforms

On 25 April 2022, the House of Commons Transport Committee's (the "Committee") report, titled "UK aviation: reform for take-off" (the "Report") was published to propos..


15 Nov 2021

From Insights

Cleaning up the skies; the commitments made by the aviation industry surrounding COP26

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ("COP26") has been taking place in Glasgow over the last two weeks.


18 Jan 2021

From Insights

The UK / EU trade deal: Aviation

On 22 December 2020, and ahead of the end of the transition period on 30 December 2020, we published a note on the consequences of Brexit for the aviation industry. At..


15 Jan 2021

From Insights

Aviation liability 2021

Members of Stephenson Harwood’s aviation team have written a chapter on aviation liability in the UK for Getting the Deal Through's edition of 'Aviation Liability 2021..


© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.