HOLIDAY company Thomas Cook have secured a huge victory for all tour operators in Britain, after defeating a “sickness” compensation claim by a Liverpool couple. It will surely worry the thousands of food-bug fiddlers, who thought they were on to an easy thing.

Now, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Government pledging their allegiance to tour operators, with Spanish authorities alongside them, threatening legal action against fake claims, there could be even more back-tracking by claimants.

Last week, we reported that one law firm had put forward a staggering 1,800 claims, only for every one to be withdrawn.

And a warning for all holiday fraudsters is that the “fundamentally-dishonest” claim against Thomas Cook, by Julie Lavelle, 33, and her 34-year-old partner, Michael McIntyre, has cost the couple £3,744 in compensation.

They had demanded £10,000 from the travel company because, they said, they and their two daughters all suffered vomiting and diarrhoea during their 2013 holiday at Gran Canaria’s Parque Cristobal Hotel.

Yet they never mentioned their condition to hotel staff, or tour representatives in the resort, said the travel firm’s lawyers at Liverpool’s county court.

Mr McIntyre even admitted in court that he’d had six pints of beer in Las Palmas Airport while awaiting the flight home, when he was supposed to have had gastro-enteritis.

He then completed a holiday questionnaire on the plane, and left the section on illness unanswered. Yet he responded that the hotel service received was “good” or “excellent” to the majority of questions, added the firm’s lawyers.

The couple’s downfall secured a first victory for Thomas Cook in the company’s campaign against false holiday-sickness claims, Judge Juliet Herzog agreeing that their claim was dishonest.

Travel trade organisation ABTA, very much aware of the situation, launched a campaign last month to stop the huge spike in claims, while authorities in the UK and Spain are determined to stamp out this growing trend.

In the past year, tens of thousands of UK holiday-makers have made claims – worth around £3,000 to £5,000 each – despite the reported sickness levels in resorts remaining stable.

Thomas Cook managing director Chris Mottershead said the hearing was the first of a number of cases the company will challenge in court.

He added: “We’re pleased that the judge found in our favour. It’s not comfortable for us to be in court, questioning our customers’ credibility.

“But the significant increase in unreported illness-claims, being received by the travel industry, threatens holidays for all UK customers.

“This case follows an increasingly-common pattern for these claims, with a previously-unreported illness being raised years after the holiday, with no medical or other evidence to support the illness.

“In these cases we will not accept liability, and we will take further action where we believe it is necessary to protect all our customers.”

The ABTA “Stop Sickness Scams” campaign believes that legislation, designed to halt the surge in fraudulent whiplash claims by capping the legal fees charged by solicitors, has fuelled the rise in travel-sickness reports because it does not apply to incidents overseas.

But the campaign also warns that holiday-makers, pursuing fake or exaggerated claims, risk ending up in prison, either in the UK or abroad.

The UK Government’s initiative follows concerns from the travel industry of the enormous number of false insurance-claims for gastric illnesses, fuelled, in part, by touts operating in European resorts.

But the increase of British claims, reckoned to be as high as 500% since 2013, is not experienced in other European countries.

This, undoubtedly, raises suspicions over the huge scale of bogus claims, and is damaging the UK’s reputation overseas.

The clamp-down, reiterated by the UK ministers, comes on the heels of these fraudsters, as highlighted by Canarian Weekly last week.

And, because of these claim increases, many tour operators appear to settle them out of court, which pushes the industry’s costs up. In turn, this raises fears of higher package-holiday prices for the majority of law-abiding holiday-makers.

British ministers are adamant they want to reduce cash incentives for claimants to bring dodgy claims against the tour operators.

Under these proposals, the claimants would pay a prescribed sum, depending on the value of the claim, which would make the cost of defending a claim predictable.

The Government’s Justice Secretary, David Lidington, said on Monday: “Our message to those who make false claims is clear: your actions are damaging, and will not be tolerated.

“We are addressing this issue, and will continue to explore, further, steps we can take. This government is absolutely determined to tackle the compensation culture, which has penalised the honest majority for too long.”

The Ministry of Justice added: “We have been liaising with ABTA and other industry representatives, to understand the underlying problems and identify the most appropriate and effective response.

“The Government is committed to tackling all fraudulent claims, and the Claims Management Regulator has taken significant steps in this area. It is working together with the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority to this end.”

And there is an optimistic note from the Ministry of Justice, which said: “The vast majority of holiday-makers will not make false claims, and those with a genuine grievance will still be able to claim damages.”







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Posted by on Jul 14 2017. Filed under Local News, Home Page Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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