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Holiday Illness Fraud: pursuing committal proceedings against dishonest claimants - even if legal proceedings are not submitted by the claimant - Jared Mallinson, Horwich Farrelly

23/12/19. Jared Mallinson, Fraud Partner at Horwich Farrelly, looks at why the fight against fraudulent holiday illness claims is still as crucial as ever.

In recent years the travel industry saw a huge rise in the number of fraudulent holiday illness claims and learnt of the impact this was having on both the insurance and travel sectors. ABTA reported that the number of holiday sickness claims had increased by 500% since 2013, with the same report also disclosing that 1 in 5 adults had been approached whilst on holiday to make a compensation claim for holiday sickness.[i] And bogus holiday sickness claims were reported to be costing the travel sector £50 million per year[ii].

Tackling this endemic threat, Horwich Farrelly has been working with the travel industry to apply its proven zero tolerance approach to fraud with the result that, to date, it has successfully defended almost 3,500 holiday illness claims. And whilst the topic of holiday illness fraud is not being as widely reported, it still remains a big threat.

The recent case of Jet2holidays Limited vs Hughes and Hughes demonstrates exactly why the travel and insurance markets must not take their eye off the ball when it comes to defending fraudulent holiday sickness claims.

Horwich Farrelly worked alongside Jet2holidays Limited to secure a landmark Court of Appeal ruling which will make it easier for travel companies and their insurers to take action against holidaymakers who make fraudulent claims for compensation, even if they do not actually submit legal proceedings.

Background to the case

The case saw an initial claim from Mr and Mrs Hughes who, following an all-inclusive holiday to Lanzarote in December 2016, put forward a claim for damages for holiday sickness under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 and under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The pair alleged that while on holiday they contracted food poisoning as a result of eating contaminated food/drink and swimming in the hotel’s allegedly insanitary swimming pool.

The key point about this claim is that both Mr and Mrs Hughes submitted a claim for the alleged illness via legal advisers, and this included signed witness statements with their version of events. In the official judgment it was noted that:

  1. Under cover of a letter from the respondents’ legal advisers dated 2 May 2017 and another dated 27 July 2017 the appellant received respectively a witness statement of the second respondent and a witness statement of the first respondent (“the original witness statements”) in purported compliance with the Personal Injury Claims PAP. Each of the original witness statements was dated 12 April 2017 and was in the usual form used in civil proceedings, save that the heading did not contain the name of a court. In the heading and in the body of each of the witness statements the relevant respondent was described as the “Claimant”. The appellant was described in the heading as the “Defendant”. Each witness statement contained a signed statement of truth...

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