Lawyers Welcome Ruling Which Provides Protection For Holidaymakers And Clarity To International Personal Injury Profession
A British woman who was sexually assaulted by a hotel worker on a package holiday has won her 11-year fight for justice after the Supreme Court ruled that a tour operator was liable for the attack.
The UK’s highest court has today handed down judgment in the case involving a woman who launched legal action against Kuoni following the incident in Sri Lanka in 2010.
The woman in her 40s, from Glasgow, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was attacked by an on-duty hotel employee who had said that he would show her back to the reception area at the resort. Instead, he lured her into an engineering room where he raped and assaulted her.
Glasgow woman sexually assaulted by hotel worker in Sri Lanka asks lawyers for help
She instructed Irwin Mitchell’s specialist International Serious Injury team to launch a legal case against Kuoni through which she and her husband booked their holiday.
Her legal team argued that the package tour operator was liable as the man was guiding her within the resort as part of the service provided under the package holiday contract.
Supreme Court hands down judgment in Kuoni case
The Supreme Court has now ruled Kuoni is liable to pay her compensation under the terms of the contract that the woman entered into when she booked the holiday.
The court said that the obligations of tour operators are not restricted to providing services such as accommodation, meals and transport. It added that tour operators also have a duty to ensure safety and customers should be able to enjoy a holiday to a “reasonable standard.”
Expert Opinion“The horrifying ordeal that our client went through and the impact that it has had, not only on her but her family can’t be underestimated. Their lives are still greatly affected more than a decade on.
“While nothing can ever make up for what has happened we welcome this definitive judgment. What happened to our client on holiday is unthinkable and clearly falls far below a reasonable standard.
“Not only does the Supreme Court’s ruling provide our client with the justice she deserves, it’s also of major importance to the wider travel industry.
“The judgment provides clarity to tour operators regarding their legal obligations. Vitally it also preserves the rights of holidaymakers and protects them.
“We now urge tour operators to ensure, where possible, that they learn lessons from this case to protect holidaymakers.
“We will continue to support our client and her family so that they can try and come to terms with what has happened as best they can.”
James Riley - Associate Solicitor
Woman's relief after winning Kuoni legal battle
The woman said: "Todays' decision is a huge relief for me and my family, and we are hugely grateful to our legal team for supporting us over the past 11 years.
“This case was always about trying to force Kuoni to take account of its failings to protect and support me both before and after the incident.
“Unfortunately, rather than take note and review its approach to my experience, Kuoni decided to double down and effectively put me on trial in an open court.
“In a case that was supposed to focus on the legal interpretation of liability, I instead had the defence trawl through my Facebook and social media records, excerpts from my deeply personal counselling sessions with a cognitive behavioural therapy specialist were read out in court and my overall mental health was repeatedly called into question. This was all while I was actively suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Like so many victims of sexual assault, it was easier to attack me and my character than for Kuoni to really consider the case in hand and its own processes and procedures.
“I only hope that by seeing this through to the end not only will Kuoni finally take action to review its approaches on customer health, safety and support - but that other women and victims of sexual assault will not have to fight as hard as I did for justice."
International serious injury lawyers secure Supreme Court judgment
During legal proceedings the High Court and the Court of Appeal ruled in Kuoni’s favour.
However, in July 2019 the Supreme Court handed down a preliminary judgment. It asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg to clarify the law on several further issues in the case as it has been pursued on the basis of regulations that originated from an EU Directive.
Earlier this year the CJEU ruled that, in view of the objective of ensuring a high level of consumer protection, a broad approach should be adopted when seeking to identify the scope of ancillary obligations undertaken under a package contract, irrespective of whether these obligations were to be performed by the package tour operator or by its suppliers of services.
The case was referred back to the Supreme Court for final judgment and Kuoni has been found liable.
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