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Sun tans and sickness claims… a gloomier outlook for claimants?

13 April 2018

Since 2013 the travel industry has seen a huge 500% increase in the number of 'holiday sickness' claims. The Government has now announced their plans to crack down on dishonest claims by capping legal costs for such claims as of Monday 16 April 2018, to fall within the fixed recoverable costs regime already in place under the Civil Procedure Rules for employer and public liability claims. Previously the claimant’s costs have not been capped and this is said to have resulted in huge numbers of tour operators being reluctant to challenge holiday sickness claims and to settle at an early stage, through fear of huge costs penalties.

This new claims culture is evident in the media, with law firms advertising to holidaymakers their right to claim for holiday sickness by suing their tour operator. However, as reported by Rory Stewart, Justice Minister, “Claiming compensation for being sick on holiday, when you haven’t been, is fraud. This damages the travel industry and risks driving up costs for holidaymakers”.

The travel industry is pushing back and the Government’s plans follow a finding of fundamental dishonesty against a British couple last month. The couple, who brought claims against Tui, claimed to have been ill on holiday in Turkey meanwhile posting photographs on social media. They were ordered to pay £15,000 in costs to Tui, which was a record amount of costs awarded against a fraudulent claim of holiday sickness. Tui hoped that this finding would “send a clear message to anyone else considering making such false claims”.

A robust approach to claims by travel operators, combined with the cost reforms, will make it increasingly challenging for fraudulent claims to succeed. It also reflects the wider shift we have seen with the implementation of the civil litigation reforms in discouraging dishonest claims and managing costs. As the April showers continue to fall and UK holidaymakers jet off to sunnier climes this no doubt provides some level of reassurance to tour operators that only genuine claims from holidaymakers will succeed!

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