Courts’ verdicts on sickness claims ‘swinging back’

The industry fight against fake holiday-sickness claims and high-profile cases of fraud had a “chilling effect” on false claims, but the view of courts could be “swinging back the other way”, according to an industry barrister.

Sarah Prager of 1 Chancery Lane said: “Early last year, the industry was winning all of the claims. Judges switched on to the fact that the claims were all the same. The claimants go to an all-inclusive. They don’t eat outside. They fall ill within three to four days. All suffer the same symptoms.

“Then there was a stream of cases where it was established claimants were committing fraud. That had a chilling effect.

“Now I detect it swinging back the other way. We are winning fewer gastric-illness claims than we were. “I’m not sure whether claims are being screened better or judges are looking at them case by case.”

Speaking at last month’s Abta Travel Law Seminar, Prager said the “tsunami” of holiday-sickness claims was creating a backlog at some courts. She said: “There are still thousands of gastric-illness claims. The courts are not coping. Courts in Birmingham and Manchester are only dealing with gastric claims.”

She forecast: “There will be a lot more gastric-illness [court] cases this year and then that will be it.”

Claire Mulligan, partner at law firm Kennedys, told the seminar that despite progress against fake sickness, claims firms were still targeting travel.

She predicted claims that sought to exploit loopholes in the new Package Travel Regulations would start to come through soon and warned: “The usual firms in this area are very aware of the new regulations.”

Mulligan added: “A lot of operators have not updated their booking terms and conditions since the new regulations came in.”

More: Travel Weekly’s Fight Fake Claims campaign

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