Tour operators should consider revising their terms and conditions in light of recent court judgments that have extended potential liability for excursions offered in resort.
Barrister Sarah Prager told a travel and law conference in London yesterday: “A couple of recent cases have changed the landscape on excursions. Liability is attaching to the tour operator.”
Until now tour operators have generally been absolved of liability for an accident to a client on an excursion sold in resort, so long as it was clear the provider was a third party.
Prager, of law firm 1 Chancery Lane, said: “If the documents are in line and the reps get it right [in the way they offer excursions], you should be able to avoid liability for an excursion provider.”
However, she told the LexisNexis conference: “The problem is the reps don’t do it. They sell fewer excursions if they say ‘I’m only booking this for you.’ Instead they say, ‘Come along with us – it’s all insured’.
“Tour operators may be careful to get their branding right, but then the rep photocopies excursion information on company-headed notepaper.”
She referred to a recent case, Moore v Hotelplan Ltd, in which the judge found the travel company’s standard terms and conditions applied to an excursion despite this not being booked as part of the package holiday in question.
The case left Inghams facing substantial damages, as reported in Travel Weekly.
Prager said: “It is a significant problem for tour operators where they sell excursions in resort. It suggests the standard terms and conditions should be applied to excursions and extends liability for excursions.
“Tour operators need to think about expressly prohibiting liability for excursions in their terms.”
Plexus Law partner Rebecca White agreed on the need to revise terms and conditions. However, she said: “It is probably going too far to say we are moving into an era of strict liability [for excursions].” She said defendants “have fairly consistent success” in defending such cases, but advised more training for reps.
Abta is understood to be preparing up-to-date advice on excursions liability.