How British holidaymakers try to recoup their holiday by making claims

by Lorraine Williamson
holiday claims

The British habit of submitting a claims after their holiday is well known in the tourism sector. Beyond the famous lady who sued Thomas Cook because there were “many Spaniards” in Spain, and the fight that tour operators maintained to stop claims for compensation for food poisoning is well known. 

The travel industry is bracing itself for a surge in legal claims from British holidaymakers related to “trips and slips” during holiday, as warned by a prominent travel lawyer.  

Personal injury cases on the rise 

Personal injury cases are on the rise within the industry. And there are concerns that litigation may extend to areas such as medical tourism, “workations” (working while travelling), and the impact of climate change and extreme weather on vacations. 

During Abta’s annual Travel Law Seminar in London, Claire Mulligan, a partner at Kennedys, highlighted the emergence of tour operator liability as a new field for claims, particularly related to trips and slips. She noted the entry of new law firms and claims management companies (CMCs) into the tour operator liability realm. This showed a similar trend to that seen with sickness claims. 

Also read: Sick during your holiday in Benidorm? 

Cogesa Expats

False sickness claims 

The travel industry previously faced a wave of fraudulent claims for gastric travel sickness between 2016 and 2018. These were fuelled by CMCs encouraging holidaymakers to pursue legal action even if they hadn’t fallen ill. However, the industry fought back by successfully prosecuting customers who made false sickness claims. In April 2018, the government’s move to regulate the legal costs associated with such claims disrupted the business model of CMCs, which relied on high costs to generate profits. 

Potential areas for future legal cases 

Looking ahead, the seminar explored potential areas for future legal cases. Asela Wijeyaratne, a barrister at 3 Hare Court, highlighted the growing medical tourism market as a higher-risk area. He noted the potential for increased litigation due to the risks involved in medical procedures abroad, including post-surgery complications upon the customer’s return to their home country. Furthermore, such cases could potentially lead to claims against travel companies under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs). 

Risks associated with workations 

Wijeyaratne also emphasised the risks associated with organising workations, with legal cases potentially arising in areas such as health and safety, tax and social security, and internet/data. Additionally, climate change and extreme weather events may result in heightened claims against travel companies when they impact clients’ vacations. 

The industry is therefore advised to prepare for these evolving legal challenges while ensuring the safety and well-being of travellers. 

Also read: Eight Brits in court for false food poisoning in hotels in Mallorca 

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