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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 2 August 2021

Package holidays: travel company liable for hotel rape


My latest book gives the law as at 08 June 2021 which was the date on which I dropped my pen, had a whisky, caught up with 25 box sets and fell asleep for a week having got to the 762nd page. Anything covered in the book that has changed since will be updated in this blog, free of charge and so long as you behave and I retain my marbles. Yes, I know, I know. I must be crazy.

And that takes me to the law on package holidays (see chapter 34). There I explain that the company with which you booked your package holiday will be legally liable to you not only for their own sins but the sins of others who they have arranged should perform some part of the package on which they have messed up. That could be the hotel which poisoned you or, as I stated, 'as the Supreme Court is likely to rule in a pending case, the hotel whose employee raped and assaulted you.'

And that is precisely what the Supreme Court did rule - last Friday 30 July 2021. The case was X v Kuoni Travel Ltd [2019] UKSC 34 and concerned the 1992 Package Travel etc Regulations but the ruling is likely to apply to the later 2018 regulations which have taken over and, subject to a bit of tweaking, still have effect notwithstanding Brexit.

In the Supreme Court case the claimant had taken a package holiday through Kuoni in Sri Lanka. The hotel - the accommodation there was part of the package - employed an electrician. While he was on duty and wearing the uniform for maintenance staff, the claimant encountered him. He offered to show her the shortcut to reception. He then lured her into the engineering room where he raped and assaulted her. She brought  civil proceedings under the regulations against Kuoni for damages for what had happened to her. Kuoni resisted the claim.

Kuoni was liable to the claimant for the acts of the employee of the hotel. The electrician's acts constituted an improper performance of Kuoni's obligations under the package. It was an integral part of a holiday, stated the Supreme Court, that a hotel's employees should provide guests with assistance over a range of ordinary matters affecting them during their stay including assistance guiding them around the hotel. A wide interpretation of a package which will be welcomed by holidaymakers and cursed by travel companies.