Further reform to Personal Injury – Crackdown on gastric illness in holiday claims

Introduction

Hot on the heels of The Association of British Insurers (ABI) (in response to an apparent increase in whiplash claims) The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has campaigned for reform in package holiday gastric illness claims. Personal Injury reform is a topic that I have previously explored under “Personal Injury Claims- further reform on the way?” found here: http://becket-chambers.co.uk/2018/03/15/personal-injury-claims-reform-way/.

In recent years, the ABTA has been vocal on their opinion that there needs to be change in order to stem the number of claims. Following this campaign there will now be set costs for holiday sickness claims.

Fixed costs

On 7th May 2018 changes came into effect that introduce fixed recoverable costs in package holiday sickness claims. Prior to these changes coming into effect, costs in these claims were recoverable on an “uncontrolled” basis. This led to high costs being pursued against the Defendant. In many circumstances the costs accrued far exceeded the overall quantum of the claim. The unregulated legal costs for Claimant representatives encouraged many out of court settlements based purely on economic reasons.

It is hoped that the implementation of fixed recoverable costs will lead to the Defendant feeling more able to defend unworthy claims in court. It is also believed that there will be a significant reduction in the number of fraudulent claims, with Claimants (and their representatives) being more cautious about what case they bring. The fixed costs will be dependant on the value of the claim and the length of proceedings. The amounts will be in line with existing costs for employer and public liability claims.

The Pre-Action Protocol for Resolution of Package Travel Claims.

The Ministry of Justice has published the Pre-Action Protocol for Resolution of Package Travel Claims. The new Pre-Action Protocol applies to all package holiday gastric illness claims valued under £25,000 and notified on or after 7 May 2018. The Pre-Action Protocol brings clarity to the claims procedure. It specifies the information to be included with a letter of claim, which Defendants are required to acknowledge within 42 days and to investigate and respond (in standard formats) on liability within a further 6 months. The Pre-Action Protocol covers disclosure, negotiations, alternative dispute resolution and expert evidence.

Conclusion

There has been a flurry of recent reform surrounding personal injury claims. The reform has extended to ‘holiday sickness claims’. The recent changes (that introduce fixed recoverable costs in holiday sickness claims) form part of the wider reorganisation of personal injury claims in order to tackle the “epidemic of the compensation culture”. It is yet to be seen whether these changes will discourage genuine Claimants. However a Claimant who has suffered sickness whilst abroad as a result of someone else’s negligence, remains entitled to access to justice for this illness and compensation as a result. It should be reiterated that a genuine Claimant should not feel dissuaded to bring a claim.