Peter Stewart, one of the industry’s most respected lawyers, died suddenly on Tuesday morning.
A partner at law firm Fieldfisher, Stewart was a central figure in the most high-profile law cases of the last decade.
He led Abta’s successful challenge to the CAA over the definition of a package holiday in the High Court in 2006 and the subsequent appeal.
He also led the defence of senior figures at Travel Republic charged with breach of the Atol Regulations in 2008.
Abta chairman Noel Josephides said: “Peter was the sharpest legal mind the industry has ever had. What made him different was that he never hedged his bets.”
Industry legal consultant Andy Cooper said: “Peter was the doyen of travel lawyers. His work impacted massively on the industry. He will be greatly missed."
Chris Photi, partner at White Hart Associates who worked regularly with Stewart, said: “Peter was a lovely man, a great guy and the most talented lawyer I’ve come across.”
Former Travel Republic director Kane Pirie said: "Peter has had an unequalled impact on the travel industry and the development of its legal framework.
"A dazzling intellect. Relentless combatant. Focussed on winning which he did, time after time. And yet often with a sense of fun and humour.
"It is a terrible loss for the industry; Peter was universally admired but also considered a good friend by many. For all that our loss is nothing compared to that of his family to whom I humbly offer my condolences."
In a statement Fieldfisher confirmed Stewart died yesterday of a heart attack.
“We are profoundly saddened by the news and express our deepest sympathy to Peter’s family at this time.
“Peter joined Fieldfisher in February 1980 and was head of the London Dispute Resolution team for ten years, building it into one of largest practices at the firm.
“Peter was also one the leading and most respected lawyers in the travel industry. He co-authored two books, one on travel law and the other on product liability.
“He was also a regular speaker at conferences organised by trade bodies such as Abta and professional organisations such as the IBA. Peter also had a great passion for Irish rugby.
“He will be missed.”
Stewart’s death came at the start of the inquest into the deaths of Bobbi and Chistianne Shepherd of carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu in 2006.
He was working on the Thomas Cook legal team. In a statement Cook said: “We are profoundly saddened by the news of Peter Stewart’s sudden passing, and we’d like to express our deepest sympathy to Peter’s family at this time.
The Coroner’s inquest will continue as planned, Cook confirmed.
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