The sharp increase in holiday sickness claims has led us to remind the profession of its obligations when handling such cases.
The warning notice, published today, reiterates SRA Code of Conduct requirements that solicitors must make sure any claims they are handling are valid and have been brought in the right way. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) statistics show a 500 percent increase in holiday sickness claims in the last four years. While people affected with illness due to standards at their holiday accommodation are entitled to seek redress, there are concerns about the validity of some claims.
Some cases have been challenged by travel companies and shown to be false. The Claims Management Regulator, the watchdog for the claims management companies that often act as the first port of call for such cases, has warned about spurious claims.
These concerns have led us to publish a new warning notice reminding solicitors about their responsibilities, as detailed in the Code of Conduct. These include properly assessing the evidence and advising clients on the strength of their case. Solicitors must also properly identify clients, and make sure claims are not brought after “cold calling” of potential clients – approaching them uninvited to ask if they want to make a claim.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “This issue is very much of concern at the moment and we want to make sure that solicitors do not get caught up in bringing false claims. We expect all solicitors to act with the utmost integrity.
“Our new warning notice makes it clear that any solicitor handling holiday sickness claims must carry out proper due diligence and make sure they advise clients properly and are dealing with a genuine case where the client is seeking legal help of their own accord.”
The Claims Management Regulator have also passed information to us about 31 law firms that had potentially improper referral arrangements with claims management companies. The payment of referral fees in holiday sickness claims is banned.