Wed 18 Jul 2018

Holiday claims - Accidents abroad and suing at home

It's that time of year when many of us jet off for some well-earned relaxation in the sunshine.  Whilst we all have different ideas of the perfect holiday, a package holiday often ticks all the boxes by providing something for everyone together with the convenience of booking flights, accommodation and transfers through a UK Tour Operator.

For parents of young children, their choice of holiday is often dictated by the quality of the facilities and kids clubs on offer, which is why the recent story in the press of Janet Alexander's experience abroad was so alarming. 

Ms Alexander is suing Thomas Cook after her 5 year old daughter, Rose, was allegedly abducted from the kids club at the Royal Wings Hotel in Antalya, Turkey.  Ms Alexander left her child at the resort's supervised play area and, on returning an hour later, she was missing.  Whilst Rose was eventually safely found 20 minutes later, she was apparently with an unidentified woman outwith the resort. Ms Alexander has raised a court action seeking compensation for the traumatic effect the incident has had on her and her family.  

Raising a Court Action at Home

In terms of the Package Travel, Package Holidays & Package Tours Regulations 1992, you have the right to raise a court action against a UK Tour Operator for the negligent failures of the foreign service providers who provided services as part of your package holiday.  In order for these Regulations to apply, your holiday must fall within the definition of a "package holiday."

What is a Package Holiday?

Your holiday will be classed a package holiday if it was:-

  • Provided at an all-inclusive price;
  • Lasted longer than 24 hours, or includes overnight accommodation; and
  • Included at least 2 of the following services - (1) transport (2) accommodation or (3) less commonly, another tourist service which accounts for a significant portion of the package such as vehicle hire.

Proving Fault

In order to be successful in making a claim, it is necessary to show that someone supplying the services as part of the package holiday was at fault and caused the injury.   As an example, a hotel may be at fault for failing to have a lifeguard on duty at a swimming pool, failing to properly maintain a staircase or furnishings within the hotel in a good state of repair, or for causing food poisoning.  Further examples of other service provider failures might include a coach crashing whilst transferring holiday makers to their accommodation, or airline staff failing to secure overhead baggage in an airplane which consequently fell injuring a passenger. 

Local Standards

In assessing whether the foreign supplier is at fault, the court must consider whether they exercised reasonable care in the circumstances, or whether they fell below the standard expected of them.  In weighing this up, the court must hear evidence on the local standards applicable in the country where the accident occurred.  Ultimately, to be successful in your claim, you will require to prove that the local standards have been breached.  It is important to bear in mind that local safety standards abroad will likely be lower than what is expected in the UK.


Due to the Regulations, you have the benefit of raising court action in Scotland which may tactically give you the upper hand.  If the UK Tour Operator wishes to contest the evidence, such as how the accident occurred, they will require witnesses.  In practice, it may be difficult or impossible for them to arrange for foreign witnesses to attend court, in addition to being costly. Therefore, provided you are able to lead the required evidence, you may have a considerable advantage in being able to raise the action at home.  

Our personal injury lawyers are currently acting for clients who are making claims for accidents which happened whilst they were on holiday.  We are experienced at pursuing UK Tour Operators for compensation, and would be happy to help with any claim you may have.

Should you wish to speak with us, please don't hesitate to contact our personal injury team.

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