The four-week call for evidence launched today (October 13) is designed to “help drive the government’s crackdown on the holiday sickness claims culture”.
Justice minister Dominic Raab said: “Bogus claims against tour operators risk driving up the price of summer holidays abroad for hard-working families who have earned a break.
“We’re taking action to deter these claims, and protect holidaymakers from being ripped off.”
The number of holiday sickness claims for gastric illnesses, such as food poisoning, has increased by up to 500% in the last four years and this has accelerated over the last year.
“The call for evidence will ask the industry and others to submit a wide range of information, from the volumes of claims to the amount of damages awarded,” said the government in a statement. “This will be used to help ministers identify next steps to tackle false claims.
“Tour operators often settle holiday sickness claims out of court, rather than challenge them because – due to the fact these spurious claims are arising abroad – legal costs are not controlled, so costs for tour operators can be out of all proportion to the damages claimed.”
The government has already proposed new rules that would prescribe the sum a tour operator would pay, depending on the value of the claim. Ministers say this move would make defence costs “predictable” and help to deter bogus claims.
This plan is currently being considered by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and could be brought into force in early 2018.
Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy welcomed the government’s call for evidence to address the issue.
“We’ve worked hard to warn our customers about the risks of bringing fraudulent claims, but it’s become clear the government needs to step in, which is why this call for evidence is so important,” he added.
“Jet2holidays looks forward to providing comprehensive evidence to support the case for legal costs control in this area.
“The government needs to ensure that the new rules are enacted without delay so that British holidaymakers can continue enjoying their well-deserved holidays without the risk of being duped by these fraudsters.”