Summer is on the horizon and many families across the UK are gearing up for their summer vacations. Package holidays are the very popular choice for British families to book their dream holidays. Legally package holidays are a contract between you and your travel agent. As a general rule breach of contract will allow you to apply for compensation for the loss suffered.
In recent years the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reported a 500% increase from around 5,000 claims in 2013 to around 35,000 claims in 2016. However, ABTA has witnessed a rise in suspicious claims in recent years and since October 2017, four couples were either sentenced or ordered to pay significant legal costs by the court after making false package holiday sickness claims.
Guide for a genuine claim
For a successful claim, you must prove that
- There was a contract between you and your holiday provider and there is a breach of that contract.
- You suffered a loss due to the breach of the contract.
- Check carefully who is your tour operator and who is actually responsible for the holiday package that you have booked. Generally, in package holidays it is your tour operator who has the overall responsibility for the provision of all services such as car hire, accommodation, flights etc
- If you have booked your holidays through a travel agent your contract must inform you that who is actually responsible for the travel services.
- In case of the flight delay or cancellation, it is advised to approach airline first.
- If you have booked individual services, for example, tickets from the airline, a car from car hire company then each individual company will be responsible for the services they have provided
- Check your contract and seek legal advice before starting a claim.
- You must prove that there was a breach of an express or implied term of the contract.
- Mere loss of enjoyment will not be sufficient to bring a claim for damages.
- You have to prove that you have suffered a loss as a direct result of a breach of the contract
- You must mitigate your losses i.e. make necessary arrangements and take reasonable steps under the circumstances to minimise the disruption of your enjoyment of the holiday
- Any claim awarded will be based on the actual loss suffered by you
The compensation elements are made up of
- loss of value which is actually the difference between the value of the holiday you paid for and the one you got.
- Out of pocket expenses including additional expenses, and
- Loss of enjoyment due to disappointment and distress caused by the breach of a contract.
Under ABTA scheme, you can claim a maximum amount of £25,000 in total, however, it is limited to £5,000 per person. For example, for a family of five, the maximum they can claim from tour operator is £25,000 which is £5,000 for each family member. A single person can claim a maximum of £5,000.
Where a claim also includes an element of personal injury or illness, the maximum limit is £1,500 on this particular element.