Department for Business and Trade ‘could rewrite’ PTRs

The Department for Business and Trade could decide to wholly rewrite the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) depending on the feedback from industry and consumer groups to its current Call for Evidence.

That is according to Craig Belshaw, assistant director for partnerships and consumer policy at the department, who told an Abta Travel Regulations Conference in London last week: “This is an opportunity for us to put in place regulations that work for the UK and more likely than not we’ll end up with regulations more suitable for the UK industry.”

He noted: “The regulations as currently drafted are a function of the [European] Package Travel Directive. It was difficult to move away from the language the EU landed on. [But now] we have powers make amendments or to write entirely new legislation.”

More: Abta sets up PTRs workshops for members

Belshaw told Travel Weekly: “It’s entirely plausible [we could rewrite the regulations]. We have the power. It might be easier [to rewrite them] depending on what we hear. But if we were just tweaking, why rewrite them?”

He confirmed plans for research on the extent to which Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs) are being sold, after Abta director of legal affairs Simon Bunce called last week for a survey of whether airlines are selling LTAs (Travel Weekly, November 16). Belshaw said: “We’re looking at the research we need to do.”

Proposals in the Call for Evidence on PTRs reform published in September include scrapping LTAs or bringing them within the definition of a package, removing some or all domestic packages from the regulations and removing packages below a certain price threshold.

Leading industry lawyer Stephen Mason, senior counsel at Travlaw, slammed the proposal to remove lower-priced holidays from protection, saying: “The message is not a good one and not one the industry I know and love would like to see. It comes near to saying, ‘Poverty is a lifestyle choice’.”

However, Belshaw defended its inclusion, explaining: “It exists in consumer law elsewhere. The Consumer Protection Act has a threshold on credit card refunds of £100. If you wanted to provide restricted liability, it is reasonable to see whether that has support.” He added: “I can’t say we’ve been inundated by support for it.”

The Call for Evidence closes on December 13.

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