Accommodation–only suppliers could still be liable if things go wrong abroad even if they claim to act as an agent, a leading travel litigation lawyer has said.
Plexus Law partner Claire Mulligan, who is director of Argent Health and Safety, said suppliers thatact as an agent must clearly disclose who is acting as the principal.
She said: “Bedbanks cannot just call themselves an agent, cross their fingers behind their back and hope for the best. The courts will start to drill down and check if you are really acting as an agent or principal.
“If you are not acting as principal, you need to makeit very clear who is responsible if things go wrong.”
She said the agent v principal issue would remain a grey area unless there was a change in the law.
“I expect there will be lots of little cases in the county court and eventually there could be a change in the law.”
Mulligan’s comments follow the decision by Med Hotels to dropits status as principal. Youtravel.com and bedswithease.com are also considering their position. Agents should make sure they know where they stand and contact ABTA if in doubt, she added.
Agents should also be aware there has been an increase in claims in connection with activities, such as jet–skiing, said Mulligan.
“This is a key area to watch out for –people want more fun and risk on holidaynow and are going for the high adrenaline sports.”
Agents and operators should ensure they make it clear whether a tour is part of a package or not. Operators should send their staff to vet excursions and make sure they meet safety standards.