Govt introduces new rules to tackle false holiday sickness claims

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The government is stepping up its crackdown on false holiday sickness claims by outlining a series of new rulings.

Ministers stated that similar controls are set to be imposed on fake illness claims in the same manner they apply to other personal injury claims. This would see the level of legal costs fixed and ultimately closing a loophole that has been exploited by claims management companies.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced that the changes in legislation would be enforced in the coming weeks to coincide with the summer holiday season following a request to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee. While the decision has been welcomed, travel operators are now looking to the government to ban cold calls which encourage these claims.

Since 2013 there has been a huge surge in holiday sickness claims. The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said there were around 35,000 claims in 2016, a 500% increase from previous years. It added that these claims are harming the travel industry with the total cost of all claims hitting a massive £240 million. Officials warned that should this trend continue it risked raising holiday prices.

Justice minister Rory Stewart, said: “This [trend of false sickness claims] damages the travel industry and risks driving up costs for holidaymakers. This behaviour also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, echoed the sentiments of the minister adding that closing the legal loophole prior to the peak summer holiday season “should lead to a reduction in the number of false claims”. Mr Tanzer stressed, however, that the government should “keep this matter under review and continue to pursue a ban on cold calling by claims management companies in relation to sickenss claims.

The ruling follows a series of high profile cases where travel operators have been fighting back against bogus sickness claims. Tui recently won two cases against holidaymakers that have claimed to have fallen ill while abroad while a couple was ordered to pay Red Sea Holidays £12,000 after having their claim branded as “fundamentally dishonest”.

Read more about the new government’s new ruling here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43741880

Find out more about ABTA’s Stop Holiday Sickness Scams campaign here – https://abta.com/tips-and-latest/abta-campaigns/holiday-sickness