Claimant lawyers are being urged to stand firm on tour operators delaying compensation, as the battle over holiday sickness claims becomes ever more acrimonious.
The Gazette understands the owner of holiday company Thomson was threatened with bailiffs last week before paying £6,000 damages that had been ordered by the court.
The case, Linda Lavery & Leslie Lavery v TUI UK Limited, had been contested at Bradford County Court and a judge last month found in favour of the claimants.
When the 28 July deadline for paying the damages passed, claimant lawyers instructed the High Court Enforcement Group, before compensation was paid out. Thomson said an administrative error had caused the initial delay but it responded well within the time required by enforcement officers.
A TUI UK & Ireland spokesperson said: ’We were sorry to hear about the Laverys’ experience. When we received the Order from the Court we organised the payment immediately and would normally have expected for this to have been received within the timeframe provided. Due to a temporary error with our payment system, however, this was unfortunately delayed on this occasion. This was rectified as quickly as possible and outstanding payment has now been sent to the claimant and their solicitor.’
Andrew McKie, a barrister at Clerksroom and director at Barrister-Direct, said that in other cases defendants are refusing to pay costs in accordance with court orders.
‘Where damages or costs are awarded, tour operators should meet their obligations and pay in accordance with the court order,’ said Mckie.
‘Unfortunately, some tour operators have a tactic of paying late which I believe is to disrupt the claimant law firm’s cash flow. This is clearly not in the claimant’s best interests where the tour operator has gone to trial and lost.’
The case of delayed payment came to light at a forum for holiday illness lawyers hosted by Just Costs Solicitors.
Simon Sharpe, Just Costs’ head of holiday claims, added: ‘We are not talking about disputed claims here. Tour operators are totally within their rights to deny liability and run cases to court. But they are not within their rights to ignore court orders when they lose cases.’
The forum heard discussions about potentially setting up an industry-wide claims register. Delegates said at any given time numerous firms could be running separate claims against the same hotel, while only being aware of their own client’s action, thereby being disadvantaged in terms of disclosure.