What makes a package holiday? New doubts from court ruling

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A ruling by the Court of Appeal against the online travel agency Qwerty Travel has been flagged as highly significant for the package holiday market.

Dynamic Package Holidays not covered by Package Travel Regulations 1992In a case concerning Sean Titshall, who was hurt while on a holiday he had booked through Qwerty Travel, the judgement once again poses questions about what, in law, constitutes a package holiday.

Vacationing in Corfu with his girlfriend, Sean was badly injured when a glass hotel patio door shattered.

Sean claimed liability against Qwerty Travel because it had sold him a package, although the agent contested the circumstances surrounding his injury.

Insisting that the holiday was sold as discrete component parts for an aggregate price and not as a 'package', Qwerty won the initial case, which was heard at Dartford County Court.

However, Lord Justice Tomlinson has since overturned the ruling on appeal and declared that Qwerty had actually sold Sean a package holiday.

Emphasising the 'service costs' Qwerty charged for putting the holiday together, Lord Justice Tomlinson noted that the agent had offered a package which inevitably had component parts.

"It would not otherwise have been a package," he said. "But those parts were presented for sale as a whole for an inclusive price which comprehended the cost of putting them together as well as the cost of sourcing them.

"There is no principled basis upon which one can conclude that any particular proportion of the service costs should be attributed to the sale of the flights or to the sale of the accommodation, and thus whilst the sale of two services may have been identified, there is no way of ascertaining what is the total cost of either of them."

According to Julia Lo Bue-Said, the leisure director of the consortium Advantage Travel Centres, the trade should take due note of the case.

"It's important that agents are explicit with their customers on what they are selling and they ensure their customers understand that they are, where relevant, only acting as an agent," she said. "They need to ensure the customer understands what this means in the event of any incidents whilst on their holiday."

"If an agent is advertising an inclusive price then it's perceived that they are advertising a package and therefore need to comply with the Package Travel Regulations."


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