Agents intent on dynamic packaging are facing a legal minefield and potential costly compensation claims, legal experts have warned.
Lawyers are claiming even if agents are confident in their product and have the correct liability insurance they could still find themselves in court.
ASB Law partner and head of travel Lee Hills said agents don’t have the same product knowledge as operators, making them vulnerable, while suing an agent could also be easier than chasing several different suppliers. “Agents who dynamically package are going to find themselves facing a lot more actions,” he said.
Pannone and Partners head of travel law Andrew Morton agreed. “If the agent or consortium has operator liability insurance they will be covered financially but they could still be sued and have to go through the court process. In the absence of a proper operator to go after, you’d go for the agent,” he said.
The concerns have grown following the death of two elderly sisters, Alice Wardle and Milly Bowman, whose pull-down bed in their Benidorm apartment collapsed and killed them last week.
In this case, the package holiday was arranged by MyTravel which is investigating the matter. However, agents fear they could be forced to deal with the consequences if a similar incident occurred on a dynamically packaged break.
FlightFinders managing director Alan Holt, whose business is predominantly dynamic packaging, said the issue needs clarification or the introduction of group cover for agents overall.
However, Midconsort chief executive Charles Eftichiou said “it’s scaremongering”, adding the consortium has built-in agent defences.
Meanwhile, On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said he believed an ATOL licence and public liability should provide adequate cover and certainly no agent should dynamically package without that coverage.