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NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW 4


Landmark ruling spurs rise in term time enquiries


Juliet Dennis juliet.dennis@travelweekly.co.uk


The trade has played down consumer fears that a landmark court case will lead to holiday price hikes in school term time despite a rise in enquiries.


Jon Platt made legal history last


Friday when he was found not guilty of a criminal offence by the High Court after refusing to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on holiday to Florida last year. He argued he should not have been


fined because her 92% school attendance record was excellent. The case is tipped to spur more


parents to take term-time holidays without fear of prosecution. But an Abta spokesman said:


“We don’t expect this judgment to have any significant impact on pricing as it does not address the fundamental issue of supply and demand during school holidays.” Aito chairman Derek Moore


said: “Some [operators] might increase prices but I don’t think it’s going to change prices much.” The case could set a legal


precedent and prompt a change in the law. Currently schools require “regular” attendance, but in the wake of the judgment the Department for Education has vowed to clamp down to make any unauthorised absence illegal. Travel companies are already


reporting an increase in enquiries for term-time holidays. Online agency Sunshine.co.uk


reported an 88% increase in term-time family bookings last weekend compared with the previous weekend. Summer


holiday bookings were down 32%. Holiday deals site Icelolly said


searches this week for early June were 48% up compared with searches for the same week made before the court case. Richard Singer, European


president of deals site Travelzoo, said: “The surge in bookings of term-time holidays reflects the mild panic parents are feeling as they rush to book cheaper holidays before rules are tightened. It is a sad indictment of how ill-conceived legislation has backfired.”


5 STORIES HOT


5 Sousse legal claim ‘is despicable’


Ian Taylor ian.taylor@travelweekly.co.uk


A leading travel lawyer has described a claim brought against Tui on behalf of relatives of victims of the terrorist attack in Tunisia last year as “despicable”.


Thirty UK holidaymakers died in the attack in Sousse in June 2015. Law firm Irwin Mitchell started


legal action against Thomson (Tui) on behalf of families of 16 of the victims as well as “a number of the seriously injured” last September. But barrister Sarah Prager, a


specialist in travel law and personal injury claims, told an Abta travel law seminar last week: “Bringing a class action against an operator that responded magnificently to these attacks is despicable.” Prager, who acts for claimants


and defendants in personal injury claims, said: “I draw the line at the Tunisia beach massacre. Tour operators stand in peril of being held liable for something over which they have no control and for which they have no insurance. “It threatens a public relations


disaster. It threatens to put people off going on holiday.”


6 travelweekly.co.uk 19 May 2016 But she warned: “We are on the


“The claim threatens a PR disaster. It threatens to put people off going on holiday”


Prager added: “The English courts have always said there are things you cannot be held responsible for, such as acts of terrorism. That is one of the reasons insurers don’t respond to terrorist threats. “As the law currently stands


there should be no prospect of the claim being successful."


threshold of the English courts considering whether defendants can be responsible for the actions of unrelated third parties. Prager said the case “will be a test


of how much is changing”, adding: “There is a danger the terrorist claims could be successful, although I don’t think they will succeed.” The inquest into the deaths in


Tunisia is scheduled for January. Irwin Mitchell has argued it launched the claim “in the light of the known level of risk in the


region at the time”. › Abta law seminar, page 68


PICTURE: ISTOCK


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