The Relative Standards of a Package Holiday Claim

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It is often difficult to know how you will stand under English law when you suffer injury or are involved in any sort of accident abroad.

When considering whether a compensation claim can be brought for a personal injury suffered abroad a consideration of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 is essential. The Package Travel Regulations apply only to a package contract that includes the following five features:

    1. it must be sold or offered for sale within the UK
    2. it must include at least two of the following:

transport

accommodation

tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package

    3. the combination of components must be pre-arranged
    4. the combination must be sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price
    5. the service must cover a period of more than 24 hours or include overnight accommodation

Consideration of these five statutory principles is essential when considering whether or not a package holiday claim under the Regulations can be made.

A successful Claimant must prove that the standards causative of the accident fell below those standards which would be reasonably required in the country in which the accident occurred. This means that when you are abroad you cannot expect the same standards that would apply at home.  In other words the standards are ‘relative’ and in most cases those standards are lower than the standards which can be reasonably expected here in the UK.

This principle is clearly demonstrated in a recent case brought by the injured customer of a package holiday travel company under the Regulations: First Choice Holidays and Flights Ltd v Holden [2006] EWHC 3775 .

The accident occurred in a Tunisian hotel. The claimant’s package holiday claim was initially successful, with the court finding in the Claimant’s favour under Regulation 15 of The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. The package holiday company appealed the decision.

When the case reached the Court of Appeal the decision was reversed. The judge concluded that:

 “It is for the Claimant to prove that the Defendant fell short of the standards applicable in Tunisia. As I have said, no evidence in that regard was adduced by the Claimant.”

As with most personal injury claims a successful Claimant must be able to prove ‘reasonable foreseeability’. This is the principle that given knowledge of all relevant factors the accident could be predicted and reasonable action could have been taken to prevent harm from occurring. The essence of reasonable foreseeability implies negligence so long as any attempts to rectify the risk are below the standards that are considered reasonable in the country in which the accident occurred. If a hotel or a tour operator is aware of anything likely to cause harm and fails to take steps to prevent such harm from occurring, which in the country in question would be considered reasonable, then negligence is likely to be established.

In the First Choice Holidays case the claimant was unable to prove that the defendant’s action fell short of the local standards applicable in Tunisia at the time. The appeal succeeded and the claimant was not therefore entitled to compensation.

Whenever we take on an injury claim under the Package Tour Regulations we always take steps to establish that the breach which caused the injury fell short of the standard of care to be expected not only in this country, but also in the country where the accident occurred.

if you wish to bring a package holiday claim then call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1606 or email us at [email protected]