Rival camps are readying their weapons as the battle over holiday sickness compensation threatens to become the new hot topic in civil claims.

Travel agents last week called for a crackdown after seeing rising levels of claims from holidaymakers who have become ill on holiday.

The Association of British Travel Agents blamed ‘aggressive sales practices of some claims management companies’ for a ‘significant’ increase in gastric illness claims, a growing number of which are unsubstantiated.

The biggest consumer firms in England and Wales now have whole departments dedicated to running these claims.

North-west firm Bott & Co Solicitors, which has pioneered compensation claims for late flights, says on its website that average compensation for mild food poisoning ranges from £700 to £3,000. Claimants could receive anything from £7,000 to £40,000 if the food poisoning is severe.

Andrew Peters, the firm’s holiday illness department legal manager, said the firm welcomed attempts to stop unmeritorious claims but said the rising number of cases was more to do with people being increasingly aware of their rights.

‘These are not trivial cases,’ he told the Gazette. ‘These claims are entirely avoidable. I would like to see anyone who seeks to trivialise them stay in a hot country and suffer food poisoning – let’s see how trivial they feel it is after that.’

To those seeking to restrict claims, he said the sector is already heavily regulated. ‘Anybody pursuing a claim has to be prepared to stand up in the witness box and show they are honest.’