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Emerging Issues in Holiday Sickness Claims - James Beeton, 12 King’s Bench Walk

12/08/17. It is now 7 months since the Court of Appeal’s decision in Wood and Anor v TUI Travel Plc (t/a First Choice) [2017] EWCA Civ 11 (considered in detail here). That decision coincided with a massive increase in claims by British tourists for holiday sickness, prompting recent calls by the MOJ for a government-led crackdown on the new ‘sickness claims culture’ in the form of the extension to this area of fixed recoverable costs. Package tour operators have in the meantime been generating significant publicity for claims found to be fundamentally dishonest in the hope of deterring further claims in this area (e.g. here).

In Wood, the Court of Appeal determined that food supplied by a hotel in the course of a package holiday constituted a transfer of ‘goods’ for the purposes of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. In such circumstances, liability under a term implied into the package contract by virtue of section 4(2) of the Act would follow even in the absence of fault on the hotel’s part if it could be proved that the food was not of ‘satisfactory quality’. It was held that food contaminated with bacteria capable of causing illness would fail that test.

The result is that causation has become the central issue in holiday sickness cases. Lower value claims will often be supported by a short report from a GP based on an interview with the claimant months (or years) after the relevant holiday and the alleged period of sickness. Those reports will usually rely on a recitation of the claimant’s symptoms and their observations of poor food preparation or handling procedures at ...

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