The UK Supreme Court has referred the appeal of X v Kuoni Travel to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a ruling which is not now expected this year.
Five Supreme Court judges unanimously agreed the referral, announced today, after hearing submissions in the case of Mrs X, who was assaulted by an electrician working as a contractor at the Club Bentota Hotel in Sri Lanka in 2010 while on a Kuoni holiday.
She subsequently brought a claim for damages against Kuoni under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
This was dismissed by the High Court, which found there was no “improper performance” of the package contract and the assault on X was an event neither the hotel nor Kuoni could “with all due care foresee or forestall”.
The Court of Appeal also found Kuoni not liable in a judgment which appeared to reduce the liability for personal injury to clients of travel companies under the PTRs.
Following today’s referral, leading travel lawyer Claire Mulligan, partner at law firm, Kennedys, said: “The judgments in the first instance and Court of Appeal have been helpful to tour operators.
“We will have to wait for the European court to consider the case before we have a definitive answer to the question of whether a tour operator will be liable for the criminal acts of hotel employees against guests or tour operator customers for which a hotel would not be liable under local law.
“The referral of the matter will mean more uncertainty to those dealing with cases under the old Package Travel Regulations.”
Mulligan, who provided submissions on behalf of Abta to the Supreme Court, said: “It seems unlikely we will have a confirmed decision in this calendar year.”
More: UK Supreme Court reviews key ruling [April 19]