Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2017
ABTA is calling for changes to the law relating to holiday sickness compensation in a bid to stop a rise in fraudulent claims.
It believes overseas holiday claims up to £25,000 should be brought under the same fixed recoverable legal costs regime that applies to other personal injury claims.
It has demanded the changes in its submission to the Lord Justice Jackson Review Panel, which is currently considering further reforms to the UK's civil justice regime.
ABTA says the change would close an existing loophole that has allowed claims for overseas holiday sickness to fall outside of the existing fixed costs regime, even though package holiday consumers have a clear line of legal redress against a UK-based travel company.
"ABTA recognises that people do occasionally get sick on their holiday. Where this is the result of a breakdown in the hygiene procedures of a hotel, consumers must retain the right to seek redress from their travel provider," said Alan Wardle, ABTA director of public affairs.
"However, the recent increase in claims for holiday sickness far exceeds recorded incidents of illness in resort, and it is apparent to us that the unscrupulous activities of some claims management companies is playing a part in driving this increase.
"We are therefore asking the Government to close the existing loophole, which allows sky-high legal costs simply because an incident may have occurred overseas. Introducing limits for the amounts that these lawyers can recover, as is already the case for other sectors, will not restrict access to justice but could help to discourage illegitimate claims."
ABTA and overseas hoteliers, particularly in Spain, say there has been a sharp rise in the number of false claims by British holidaymakers and blamed aggressive sales tactics by claims management companies.
Using online marketing campaigns and social media, they say these companies specifically target all-inclusive package holidaymakers who have travelled within the past three years, telling them they can make claims for gastric illness even when they have not sought medical help in resort or reported their illness to the UK tour operator during their holiday.
ABTA's response to the review panel was submitted on Monday following feedback, including case studies, from its members. The deadline for responses has been extended to the January 30.
The association has also recently responded to a separate Government consultation welcoming proposals to increase the Small Claims Track limit for personal injury claims from the current level of £1,000 to £5,000.
It says this will also help to combat the rise in false claims.
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.