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The new Package Travel Directive dominated Abta’s annual Travel Law Seminar in London. IAN TAYLOR reports

Stephen Mason

Information: New requirements for what to tell clients

The PTD will require changes to the information companies are required to give clients. Abta senior solicitor Paula

Macfarlane said both travel organisers and retailers “could be held liable if information is not got across”. Businesses offering non-

package assisted travel arrangements (ATAs) will need to provide security for refunding all payments received. They must also tell clients “the traveller will not benefit from any of the rights of package travellers” and “each service provider will be solely responsible for the contractual performance of its service”, or face liability for a package. Abta head of legal services Simon Bunce noted: “If you’re an ATA retailer, you won’t want to emphasise what clients are not getting. If you’re a package organiser, you want to show what they are getting.”

Dispute: row over ATAs delays package edict

A dispute over the definition of ‘assisted travel arrangements’ (ATAs), which will bring click-through sales between websites within the Package Travel Directive (PTD), held up the agreement on a new directive last month. Negotiations between the

European Council, European Parliament and European Commission stalled as MEPs sought to bring ATAs within the definition of a package – and the council resisted. However, a resolution is on

the cards, with click-through transactions involving the transfer of specified data likely to fall within the package definition, according to Abta head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso. He told the Abta Travel Law Seminar: “I bet we’ll have an agreement by July 1. It’s likely the council will win the day, but parliament

I bet we’ll have an agreement by July 1. It’s likely the council will win the day

will keep the definition of click- throughs within the ATA [clauses].” Tui Travel UK general counsel

Pete Baxter said the dispute was “all about the transfer of data”. Parliament’s representatives

want click-through transactions involving the transfer of a traveller’s name, payment details or email defined as a package. The council insists only click- throughs involving the transfer of all three be defined as packages. Baxter said: “Parliament does

not like the cumulative effect of these tests and wants to bring more into the scope of [package] protection.”

LATEST: Deal struck on ‘click-through’ rules Simon Bunce 10 • — 7 May 2015

The European Parliament and European Council struck an agreement on Tuesday claiming online sales will get the same protection as trips bought through traditional agents. Abta welcomed the news but

claimed most click-through sales would avoid regulation by being classified as ATAs. D’Alfonso said the directive

would take two years to execute, but an inconclusive election result could create political ‘inertia’.

Atols: ‘Vicious circle’ of costs to threaten scheme

Senior industry figures warned the new directive could trigger “a vicious circle” of rising costs and jeopardise the Atol scheme by shifting responsibility for regulation from the place of sale to the place of establishment of the travel business or ‘organiser’. Stephen Mason, senior partner at Travlaw, said: “If you sell in a lot of countries, the UK regulator will have to protect all the packages. Other regulators will also protect packages in the UK. A business in the EU will be governed where it’s established. A business outside the EU will be governed by the regulations of the state where it’s selling.” “A UK regulator won’t be able to say it doesn’t recognise the Latvian system of protection, for example. “If a company sells across

Europe, what steps will the Air Travel Trust and the CAA take to cover the liability? It could become a vicious circle if costs go up,” he said. Consultant Andy Cooper

asked whether a mutual scheme such as the Air Travel Trust could exist if businesses can establish themselves wherever they wish.


Abta Travel Law Seminar

Stephen D’Alfonso

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