“When tour operators are forced to sell discounted holidays due to lack of demand, pressure is placed on hoteliers to reduce bed rates to reduce losses. This reduction leaves hotels cutting corners in the drive to maintain profit margins, and health and safety regimes are often the first to be relaxed.”
On average 60 million British people go on holidays each year, with over 15 million travelling to warmer climates on package holidays. Whilst the internet has seen a decline in the traditional package holiday, such holidays still remain popular.
The number of traditional package holidays sold will inevitably suffer as some holidaymakers seek cheaper DIY or Dynamically Package Holidays. However, holidaymakers who choose the traditional route can be assured that if things do go wrong they can rely on powerful consumer protection in the form of the Package Travel Regulations 1992.
UK travellers on package holidays who suffer illness or who are injured in an accident abroad are able to claim compensation in the UK from their tour operator, whereas those who book directly with hotels (DIY or Dynamic Holidays) are left to sue companies in the country where the services are provided, which is practically impossible.
Simon also said: "Despite the rapid rise in unregulated DIY holidays, the number of holiday accident claims received by Simpson Millar’s travel department has increased tenfold over the last 3 years.”
Simpson Millar Solicitors have several informative websites, including www.on-holiday-
Simon Lomax, whose team has handled hundreds of successful holiday illness and accident claims for both injured holidaymakers and tour companies, such as, Thomson, First Choice, Airtours and Direct Holidays says: “We provide specialist services for individuals and groups of travellers who suffer illness or who are injured in accidents abroad and are seeking compensation for their personal injury. Holidaymakers who suffer personal injuries in hotels abroad, often try and deal with faceless company individuals who are determined to avoid liability even when failures in health and safety standards are obvious.”
“Pursuing holiday claims is not an easy task and with recent Court of Appeal cases such as Gouldbourn v Balkan Holidays Ltd and Anr  reaffirming that the claimant is required to seek out firm evidence of the applicable local standards of health and safety in the jurisdiction where the accident or illness happened in order to establish fault – British health and safety standards do not apply when determining liability in such claims even when travelling with a UK tour operator!”
“The effect of Gouldbourn will inevitably be to increase the front-loading of legal costs in holiday claims, as specialist claims solicitors obtain costly evidence to establish liability even before court proceedings are commenced. The issue of legal costs is raising concerns with most holiday companies yet they do little to avoid these costs, denying liability for claims whose circumstances have repeated themselves year after year and in the same hotels!”
“The tour operators can hardly complain given they have relied on the ‘local standards’ defence for nearly two decades now despite them being in a better position than their customers to determine whether local standards have been breached.”
“Any reasons for alleging fault as judged by local standards of health and safety must clearly be alleged in the letter of claim and this requires research and often substantial investment to obtain such details.”
The Package Travel Regulations are not the only mechanism by which those injured or ill abroad can claim compensation. Travellers injured in Road Traffic Accidents may also rely on European Directives to bring claims in the UK courts against foreign insurers, in relation to foreign RTA claims.
National firm Simpson Millar advise those injured abroad to seek legal advice before progressing claims with tour operators or insurers. Most personal injury claims specialists will pursue claims on a ‘No win No fee’ basis. Simpson Millar’s specialist travel lawyers are proud of the service we provide to our clients – we take the time to advise and provide regular updates whilst pursuing defendants with vigour!