The revised Package Travel Directive now adopted by the European Parliament is due to be incorporated into UK law sometime in 2017.
Although the revision has not dramatically changed the 25 year old (1992) regulations, there are nevertheless some significant amendments. Chapter IV of the revised regulations (the old Regulations 14 and 15) is probably the most relevant to the personal injury work that Penningtons Manches handles for our travel insurer clients and their policyholders.
Under Article 13(1), the organiser is responsible for the performance of the travel services included in the contract. An ‘organiser’ will be defined as ‘a trader who combines and sells or offers for sale packages, either directly or through another trader…’
The term ‘package’ is broadened slightly to organisers of holidays marketed as packages (any holiday described as a package or in similar terms). A holiday will also be considered a package if “purchased from separate traders through linked online booking processes where the traveller's name, payment details and e-mail address are transmitted from the trader with whom the first contract is concluded to another trader or traders and a contract with the latter trader or traders is concluded at the latest 24 hours after the confirmation of the booking of the first travel service.” Whilst one must question the drafting (!), the bottom line is that this is good news for claimants since it extends liability to parties who may be involved in the holiday booking, even though they are not acting as a traditional tour operator.
The revised Regulation (Article 14) also allows an organiser to refuse to compensate or to limit any compensation to a consumer in certain circumstances. However, this does not extend to personal injury or damage caused intentionally or with negligence.
It will be interesting to see how tour operators and other travel companies involved in the provision of holiday services factor these changes into their revised terms and conditions. It is also inevitable that the reforms will trigger satellite litigation as claimants’ and defendants’ lawyers run arguments regarding its interpretation and application before the UK courts.