The travel industry is urging holidaymakers with sickness claims to shun lawyers in favour of its own settlement scheme.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has unveiled a new and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for personal injury claims worth up to £10,000.
The sector has reported a deluge of new claims and has pleaded with the government for action to clamp down on lawyers handling the cases.
The Gazette exclusively revealed last week that regulators are investigating more than a dozen law firms over potential links with claims management companies and referral fees paid for work.
While ABTA continues to campaign for a hardline approach, the organisation sees alternative dispute resolution as another way to control the costs involved.
Simon Bunce, ABTA director of legal affairs, said: ‘The new ADR scheme means that people who have travelled with an ABTA tour operator can now access a straightforward, cost-effective and fair resolution service for personal injury claims without the need to go to court.
‘This enables members to save on legal costs and holidaymakers to save time and sidestep claims firms that are likely to take a large slice of any award.’
The ADR scheme is administered by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution and creators envisage that decisions take no longer than eight weeks. It is voluntary and requires both parties to agree to use it to settle disputes about an injury or sickness the customer alleges was the fault of the company.
ABTA says holiday sickness claims now represent nine in 10 personal injury complaints received by its members: in 2013 that proportion was six in 10.
The organisation has also called this year for fixed recoverable costs on holiday sickness claims valued at less than £25,000.