I have recently been abroad to Lanzarote for a week of winter sun. I was really looking forward to a week of relaxation and sun. However, the holiday was not what I expected. It started with a short delay. When I finally arrived at my hotel, which was all inclusive, I was then handed an information card about holiday sickness claims, along with a map and information about trips TUI (formerly known as Thomson) organised. The information card about holiday sickness claims warned me about the companies trying to submit claims for sickness on behalf of British holidaymakers and that I may receive a call about this upon my return to the UK. I did not think anything of this until the second day when my daughter became unwell and subsequently both myself and my husband became unwell with what seemed to be food poisoning. However, upon reporting it to the hotel, it appeared that no-one else had experienced the same symptoms. Unfortunately, I was unwell for the rest of my holiday.
Upon my return, I did some research into holiday sickness claims as it appeared that TUI were very concerned about claims being submitted. When I reported what had happened to the rep, the questions being asked did seem to be aimed at excluding the possibility of a claim being made. What I found on Google was lots of solicitors firms who would be able to investigate a claim of this nature. However, I also came across newspaper articles about fraudulent claims and one particular article by the Guardian was reporting on a couple who had been sent to prison in October 2017 for submitting false claims.
Deborah Briton and her partner Paul Roberts were sent to prison for fraud for 9 months and 15 months respectively for trying to claim £20,000 compensation for 2 holidays where they and Ms Briton’s children allegedly suffered from sickness. Thomson Cook brought private prosecutions against them when they discovered Facebook posts where the couple were talking about how fantastic their holidays were. They were attempting to claim £20,000 in compensation but legal costs were also £28,000. The Judge, David Aubrey QC, commented that this case would be a warning for all those tempted to make claims in the future. A Thomson Cook spokesperson after the hearing also commented that the sentences handed down demonstrated the seriousness of the issue.
The couple’s convictions also came on the day that the Government called for evidence from travel operators as part of a crackdown on these types of claims. There is a talk of a fixed fee regime for legal costs being introduced (which is used in other areas such as road traffic accidents and accidents at work). This is due to the fact that these types of claims have increased by 500% since 2013. Boris Johnson has even commented that the digestive systems of British holidaymakers had “become the most delicate in the world”. The Government’s crackdown has also been welcomed by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) who has stated that the cost of these claims are pushing up the cost of holidays abroad, especially to Spain. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has also issued a guidance note due to the number of fraudulent claims being submitted, which shows how serious the issue is.
However, the above should not put you off making a claim where you have genuinely suffered some form of gastric illness whilst abroad. If you find yourself unwell abroad, it is important that you seek medical advice and report what has happened to your hotel and rep if you have one. However, it is important to heed the above advice and be aware of the concerns surrounding these types of claims.
JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist you with all your legal needs.
JNP Legal offer a variety of legal services. Our Merthyr, Nelson & Llanishen office is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm and our Merthyr Tydfil Office is open 9am – 12pm every Saturday morning.
If you are unable to attend our offices we would be more than happy to arrange a home appointment, where convenient.
We value our clients and pride ourselves on our ability to offer a first class service.
If you require our assistance with any legal matters please call us on 01685 350421 (Merthyr Tydfil Office) 01443 450561 (Nelson Office) or 02920 763211 (Cardiff Office) or contact us via email on Law@jnplegal.org