British announce plans to tackle tourist fake food poisoning claims

The British government are considering steps to try and stop the flood of bogus food poisoning compensation claims by British tourists visiting Spain who have already reportedly cost hoteliers more than €50 million and in the case of the Canary Islands claims are said to have increased by 1400% in just the last year.

After numerous complaints from the Government of Spain, beleagured British prime minister Theresa May’s executive have proposed a limit to the legal costs that tourism companies would face if they go to trial on fraudulent complaints, through a bill that would modify existing legislation. The standard would also require “more conclusive evidence” when making claims.

According to British law, UK tourists can make claims up to three years after leaving the region where they spent their vacation

The British government is preparing a bill to limit such costs so that tour operators can refuse to go to court and stop cases with insufficient evidence from reaching trial. As a first step, we want to end the legal loophole that allows British tourists to claim up to three years after visiting a destination.

Justice Secretary David Lidington said: “Our message to those who make false holiday sickness claims is clear – your actions are damaging and will not be tolerated.”

“We are addressing this issue, and will continue to explore further steps we can take. This government is absolutely determined to tackle the compensation culture which has penalised the honest majority for too long.”

The false food poisoning claims have caused some hotels to have to pay up to €500,000 to deal with complaints, seriously affecting the tourism sector not only in Spain but also in other European destinations Like Italy, Greece or Portugal.

The fraud cases have begun to affect prices of tourist packages to Spain in the British market, increasing prices to help hoteliers cope with possible false demands for compensation.

Theresa May has said the British government plans to limit the amount of legal costs that companies have to deal with, thus trying to maintain prices for British tourists. “Law-abiding tourists should not have to pay more for their already hard-earned summer vacation due to false health claims that lead unfairly to increased prices,” she said.

She added “tough prison sentences are already in place for anyone found guilty of making a fraudulent claim,” but the British government’s intention is “to go further.”

The British Government say they are committed to helping stop these fraudulent claims that “are forcing up the cost of family holidays and giving the Britain a bad name abroad.”

The government’s initiative comes after the British Association of Travel Agencies (ABTA) launched the Stop Sickness Scams campaign, warning that filing a fraudulent overseas claim can lead to a conviction of up to three years in prison abroad. The initiative, launched in support of ABTA members and their partners in the tourism industry, has support from Thomas Cook, TUI, Jet2holidays and Monarch among others.

Source: La Provincia

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