The battleground over holiday sickness claims focused on the civil courts this week as judges grappled with the burgeoning industry.

In one case, claimants won compensation from a hotel where they allegedly suffered food poisoning. Sitting in Bradford County Court, Deputy District Judge Mahmood ruled that a married couple had shown that their illnesses were caused by food from their hotel.

The case is considered important by lawyers in the sector as it was the first to go to trial following the Court of Appeal judgment in Wood v TUI, which stated that claimants must prove contamination to secure damages: it is not enough simply to say they fell ill.

All parties in Lavery and Lavery v TUI UK Limited had agreed the couple were ill during their holiday in July 2013. According to a summary, written by the claimants' counsel Ian Skeate, Mahmood said the facts of the case boiled down to one simple issue: whether the claimants had proven their illnesses were caused by food from their hotel.

He agreed they had, after hearing evidence about a lack of fridges in the hotel, the presence of flies and cats and that food was left uncovered for long periods. He awarded the couple around £6,000 in compensation between them.

Andrew Mckie, director of Barrister-Director which represented the claimants, said the outcome proves these type of cases can still be won.

However, travel firm Thomas Cook this week successfully proved fundamental dishonesty against claimants who had brought a sickness claim at Liverpool County Court against a Gran Canaria hotel where they stayed in 2013. 

The claimants, one of which made favourable comments about the hotel on the flight home after drinking six pints of lager, were ordered to pay £3,744 in costs within 28 days.

Thomas Cook said it was the first of a number of cases it plans to take to court where claims have been made despite no illness being reported at the resort.

UK managing director Chris Mottershead said: ‘This case follows an increasingly common pattern for these claims, with a previously unreported illness being raised years after the holiday with no medical or other evidence.’

The government has announced it is to introduce fixed costs for claims started abroad in an attempt to tackle the growing number of holiday sickness claims.