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Are ‘local standards’ important if you have an accident on holiday?

If you have an accident while on a package holiday, then your tour operator may be liable for your losses under the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tour Regulations 1992. To prove your case you need to show that your tour operator or their supplier (e.g. your hotel), failed to carry out the contract with reasonable skill and care needed to protect your safety.

The standard of care that should be applied, according to the leading case,Wilson v Best Travel [1993], is the standard of the country where the accident occurred. In Wilson, the claimant was injured when he fell through glass patio doors while holidaying on the island of Kos, so the Greek standard of care applied in this case.

Although the courts have generally applied Wilson, particularly in cases where local regulations are involved, there has been recent judicial comment suggesting that, in certain circumstances, there might be alternative ways for a claimant to prove their case.

In Griffin v My Travel Ltd [2009], the claimant was injured when his hotel bed collapsed. The judge in this case suggested that local standards are not necessarily determinative of negligence, particularly as these claims are brought by UK nationals against UK holiday companies.

However, in Gouldbourn v Balkan Holidays [2010], where the claimant injured herself in a skiing accident, the Court of Appeal emphasised the importance of local standards, saying that it would be impracticable for different standards of care to apply to different tourists. But, importantly, the court also stated that the local standard was not the be all and end all, and that there would be some cases where other factors would apply, for example, international rules. In this case, the claimant referred to the handbook of the Fédération Internationale de Ski.

So, where does this leave you if you are injured on a package holiday?

Proving that your holiday company or their supplier has breached local regulations or standards must be still at the heart of the case. However, if there are other factors that may be applicable, then you should also argue these too. For more information about this, or any holiday related claims, please contact 0117 904 6000.

Posted on Sep 5th, 2011 by Lyons Davidson