The claims culture here in Ireland has got out of hand. This won’t be news to Irish readers but, to everyone else, believe me when I say the UK has seen nothing compared to the absurd payouts being made here. It’s something that is causing retailers a lot of concern.
Recently, I posted on LinkedIn airing my opinions on the recent case of a 16-year-old who was granted €85,000 (more than £75,000) after being burnt by tea in Starbucks aged 12 – which she was carrying under her elbow. The gist of my post was that I’m totally sick of reading about cases like this.
We all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, and it’s time we started holding ourselves accountable. In Ireland, we don’t seem to have the ability to do the right thing any more – an accident is an accident. This type of case to me represents greed in people, which is just awful.
My post has been viewed more than 130,000 times, which suggests I am not alone in that view.
It’s a culture that is having a big impact on our industry. Public liability costs are rising with the settlements insurance companies have to make to consumers under Irish law.
The average cost of compensating someone in Ireland is €17,000 (£15,300), whereas it’s about €4,000 (£3,600) in the UK. An Irish tour operator recently revealed their insurance premium had risen from €25,000 (£22,500) this year to €400,000 (£360,000), and that this will affect their profits going forward.
Recently, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd did win a case in Ireland, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. The company was taken all the way to the High Court after a Tour America customer travelling with them took an excursion on a thriller boat ride and injured herself.
The client lost the case and has to pay all legal fees, although she has 28 days to appeal, so let’s wait and see what happens there.
The cost of public liability insurance in Ireland is absolutely affecting the bottom line of all travel companies.
Thankfully, there have been indications from the Irish government they are going to look again at the laws around payouts here. Let’s hope it’s not left to run on.
If this issue is not dealt with very soon, we will have a serious question mark over whether Irish companies can hold on to any decent margin... and don’t forget, UK companies operating in Ireland are beholden to Irish law.
Mary McKenna, managing director, Tour America and Cruise Holidays