Law court judges are becoming increasingly inclined to believe the defendant when a customer launches a legal action following a holiday.
Speaking at the ABTA Travel Law seminar in London yesterday, barrister Sarah Prager, who specialises in travel cases at 1 Chancery Lane, said in the past judges have tended to side with the complainants on the balance of evidence whenever they have sued a tour operator or travel agent following problems on a holiday.
However, in the last year she has seen a sea change in the way cases are viewed by judges as they becoming more likely to accept the testimony of the travel arranger defending the case, rather than the customer.
Prager said: “What we are seeing is much more a trend in favour of judges trying to help defendants but we need to give them the tools to help them to do that.
“If you get your house in order and the evidence is there, we can win these cases and we are winning these cases.”
In order to impress the judge and win his sympathy, she added operators and agents need to ensure they have all their paperwork in order regarding each booking and must be able to prove their sales staff are following the correct protocols when dealing with customers.
Prager said the last year has seen judges also place the burden of proving what local standards are fall on the claimant, not the defendant.
This means if a holidaymaker is suing a tour operator after slipping on an overseas hotel floor, it is up to the customer to prove the hotel had not followed local health and safety guidelines, as opposed to the operator proving they had.
Prager said this again strengthens the hand of the defendant who is also becoming increasingly likely to recoup all the costs following a successful defence.
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