Fraudulent holiday sickness claims have been a significant problem for the travel industry in recent years. However, the industry tackled abuses by adopting a robust approach to evidence and focusing its investigative efforts on early identification of groundless claims. The introduction of a formal Pre-Action Protocol just before the 2018 summer season also helped in addressing claims numbers and behaviours.
What is the impact of the recent High Court decision in Griffith v TUI on such issues? Stuart Smith of our fraud team reviews the decision in this blog, acknowledging that it may have an impact on the defence of sickness claims generally but arguing that the case may have a less significant impact on the defence of suspected fraudulent claims than might first have been thought.
The minutes of the Rule Committee’s February meeting show some progress on holiday sickness claims. The core idea to extend fixed recoverable costs to these cases has been on its agenda since late last year, following the Ministerial announcement last year.
Proposed changes to fixed costs (CPR Part 45) seek to apply PL costs to these cases. A relevant pre-action protocol (PAP) is still in draft form – very probably based on the general personal injury PAP – and being worked up between the Committee and the Civil Justice Council. Some CPR points also need clarification, for example the application of Part 36 offers and the overlap with small claims (Part 27).
The recently published February minutes strongly suggest that the intention is still to bring the changes into force this April. Minutes are not yet available from the 2 March meeting and the next meeting takes place on 13 April. Given that a statutory instrument – which has to follow a defined Parliamentary timetable – is required to change rules on procedure and costs, there is some possibility that the proposed introduction of fixed costs for holiday sickness claims in April 2018 could slip. We will report any further developments soon as we can.
Co-written by Alistair Kinley, BLM’s director of policy and government affairs, and partner Sarah Hill
After increasing media interest in, and tour operator concern about rising numbers of holiday sickness claims, the Ministry of Justice has now asked for rules to limit the legal costs in such cases to be looked at as a priority. These cases are outside current rules on fixed legal costs for injury and disease cases under £25,000 and – as was the case with noise-induced hearing loss claims a few years ago – it would appear reasonably likely that the spike in these cases is fairly closely related to the fact that costs aren’t restricted.