Jet2holidays is now able to bring legal action against fake holiday sickness claimants – even if they do not lodge their own proceedings – after a Court of Appeal ruling.
The UK’s second-largest tour operator called the move “a landmark decision” which “paves the way for companies to take action against dishonest claimants”.
Jet2holidays can take contempt proceedings forward after the ruling confirmed the High Court has jurisdiction to commit for contempt of court where false statements verified by a statement of truth are submitted by a potential claimant, even though no formal claim for damages is ever issued.
The package holiday specialist had previously issued contempt proceedings against Karl and Laura Hughes from Nottingham, after they brought a claim against the company for gastric illness following a holiday to Lanzarote in 2016.
The couple alleged they had contracted food poisoning as a result of eating contaminated food, and served witness statements, verified by a statement of truth, detailing the extent of their illness in April 2017.
They later withdrew the claims prior to any formal proceedings being issued.
After uncovering evidence that undermined these claims, including Facebook and Twitter posts, and 45-minute GoPro video on YouTube showing Karl Hughes taking part in a snorkelling trip, Jet2holidays issued contempt proceedings.
A High Court judge originally dismissed the operator’s claim, explaining he believed the High Court to have no jurisdiction to deal with the committal proceedings.
Jet2holidays appealed the decision and the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in the the company’s favour. It was also awarded appeal costs and as a result of the ruling, can now progress with its claim against Karl and Laura Hughes.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2holidays and Jet2.com, said his business “continues to lead the way against fake sickness claims”, adding the appeal ruling would have “wide-reaching implications” not only for tour operators tackling fake sickness claims but also the wider insurance industry.
“The ruling should send a warning to others. If documents are found to contain false information, contempt of court proceedings can and will be brought, even when the claimants have decided not to commit to legal proceedings,” he said.
“Jet2holidays has led the way in stamping out fake claims made for gastric illness and we will continue to investigate and defend any claims that are dishonest or illegitimate.”
An Abta spokesperson said: “This landmark decision won by Jet2holidays, which allows companies to take action against dishonest claimants even if they do not actually submit legal proceedings, sends a clear message to any customers considering a fraudulent claim that the consequences for doing so can be very severe.
"Following on from previous court cases where fraudulent claimants have received a criminal record, substantial fines or a prison sentence, this important case should help ensure only genuine claimants embark on and pursue claims for compensation, which is welcome news for the industry.”