Start your claim

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

  • The cost of UK package holidays is soaring as a result of fake holiday illness claims;
  • The surge in fake food poisoning cases could lead to British holidaymakers being banned from all inclusive resorts;
  • Since 2013, holiday illness claims pursued through UK law firms have increased by 500% with tens of thousands of claims being made;
  • Britons used to have the “weakest necks” in Europe and, until recently, fake whiplash claims were costing the UK insurance industry around £1bn a year, increasing the price of policies for customers. As the UK government has started driving out fake whiplash claims, Britons now have the “weakest stomachs” in Europe.

The above are just a few of the statements being made by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Tour Operators, many Defendant law firms in England and even members of the UK government. And the media are lapping it all up; from headline-grabbing articles in the Daily Mail to more detailed reports in publications such as the Guardian and the Independent.

English personal injury claims have often been regarded, and widely misreported, as the most expensive claims in Europe.  Whiplash claims cost thousands in damages and then the ambulance chasing lawyers add their legal bill to triple the insurer’s overall outlay, is often the cry from the Defendant market.  There must be empirical evidence to back up these strong assertions…?  But whenever the Association of British Insurers is asked to provide hard evidence there is a deafening silence.  Indeed, Professor Oliphant (Professor of tort law at Bristol University, and former Director of the Institute for European Tort Law in Vienna) has confirmed that the evidence to support the claim that the UK is the whiplash capital of the world is “very flimsy”.  He said “such evidence as there is has been misleadingly and tendentiously presented by participants in the public debate about the alleged ‘compensation culture’. Actually, the same evidence makes clear that, by most measures, the UK is not the whiplash capital of the world or even of Europe.”

Flawed studies and unreliable data make for interesting bedfellows and sensationalist journalism. However, the data actually shows that Italy had almost 50% more whiplash claims than the UK (in the period surveyed) and paid out more than twice as much in compensation.  Professor Oliphant also confirmed: “The average cost of a whiplash claim in the UK was lower too – not just than in Italy but in more than half of the other countries for which data were supplied. On average, whiplash claims in Switzerland cost ten times as much as in the UK; in the Netherlands, almost six times as much; in Norway, more than twice as much”.  Indeed, the data clearly shows that the overall cost of bodily injury claims in France, Germany, Italy and Spain was higher than in the UK.

But what of the current furore around holiday illness claims?  Surely the strong messages being shouted from ABTA’s rooftops are backed up with robust evidence from reliable sources? The statement: since 2013, holiday illness claims pursued by UK law firms have increased by 500% with tens of thousands of claims being made.

ABTA’s senior solicitor was recently challenged about the credibility of this allegation at a personal injury conference and she confirmed that the data came from only “a proportion” of ABTA members.  ABTA had asked all of its members for their data and the “500% increase” figure was only in relation to the members who replied and related to the period 2013 to 2016.  ABTA also confirmed that tour operators were not set up to monitor fraudulent claims, casting further doubt on the reality of the alleged holiday illness epidemic.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been some increase in holiday illness claims as more Claims Management Companies and law firms in the UK have spotted a business opportunity in this niche area.  But a careful balance needs to be struck, and accurately reported, as to the increase in genuine claims and those claims which may be dishonest and fraudulent.

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority recently issued a warning notice, warning law firms that they are not doing enough to vet “false or dubious” holiday illness claims and that some companies are involved in unethical practices, including encouraging clients to delete evidence.  Such a notice is welcome news and sends a strong message to the new entrants to the market who may not have stringent vetting procedures in place.  And the reality is that any case is as strong as the evidence in support of it; but the failure to report an illness immediately to the hotel or a doctor does not automatically mean that a claim is fraudulent.

Some Defendant firms are lauding the Judgment in the recent Court of Appeal case of Wood v TUI Travel plc t/a First Choice ([2017] EWCA Civ 11) as a great victory in the defence of holiday illness cases.  However, it should be remembered that the Claimants were successful in this case and the Court of Appeal simply clarified the threshold that needs to be met to establish causation in illness cases.

A reality check is required across the travel litigation industry to properly understand the extent of any issue regarding holiday illness claims and to eradicate the small number of fraudulent claims.  A lack of reliable data as to the extent of any problem, and reliance on that unreliable data, significantly misinforms the public debate.  We are supposed to live in a fair and democratic society and access to justice is the cornerstone of any such society.  However, there is a very real risk that any reforms in this sector, driven by unreliable data and pressure from large corporates, will significantly restrict access to justice, deterring genuine claims where some people suffer life changing symptoms.

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service very professional"

Excellent service very professional. Jane did a great job. Loss of earnings rewarded and compensation for a broken hip due to accident at work. Kept us informed at all times made it easier for us to move on from what was suffered. It was very hard having to accept what…

andreaFebruary 27, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Brillant service"

Brillant service , from start to finish definitely recommend hudgells solicitors all the hard work is done for you wouldn’t hesitate to use them again or recommend them

LeannFebruary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Hudgell Solicitors have given me…"

Hudgell Solicitors have given me outstanding service and support through a difficult time. They have assisted me in claiming compensation which they made the journey of getting it as easy as possible.

KatieFebruary 14, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Couldn't be easier"

Couldn't be easier. From the initial call the whole process was handled smoothly and effortlessly.

Kevin RobertFebruary 14, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Amazing !!"

I felt relaxed through the whole process, i was made to feel confident in winning my case which i would like to add i did 😁 .. the company kept me informed all the way through by emails aswell as telephone calls, i would highly recomend to everyone needing expert…

LesleyFebruary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Really happy with the service I had…"

Really happy with the service I had from Hudgells & Alex was great!

Natalie PayneFebruary 10, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Claim resolved quickly and efficiently"

The lawyer was quick to respond and always kept me updated on progress. Everything was resolved efficiently. I would certainly recommend them to family and friends.

Lulu BFebruary 04, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"There when ever I needed to ask a…"

There when ever I needed to ask a question, very informative, brilliant job definitely use them again if I needed too

KatieFebruary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Thank you Sarah Kidd"

Sarah Kidd was fantastic she give me the best advice always keeping me up to date with everything that was going on

Christopher DixonJanuary 31, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"It took over 3 years to resolve my case…"

It took over 3 years to resolve my case and Hudgell supported me throughout with great sensitivity and professionalism. My caseworker, Gemma, always kept me updated and was easily reached if l had questions to ask. Can wholeheartedly recommend Hudgell.

Robert WebsterJanuary 31, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Every time I phoned my call was…"

Every time I phoned my call was answered in a polite manner and I got answers to my questions.

KhalidJanuary 30, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Anthony and his team at Hudgell…"

Anthony and his team at Hudgell solicitors are extremely professional and caring People. From the first phone conversation right through to completion i was always kept updated, if i had any concerns and contacted them, they were always happy to listen and put my mind at rest. I would highly…

Mrs lisa martinJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Great service . Made me feel at ease . Proffesional and very quick to respond to any questions or concerns I would highly reccomend

LesleyJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service

JensonJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service, Alex Garven was most helpful in dealing with my claim. Many thanks for his hard work in getting a result for me,. It took quite a while but during that time I received regular progress updates and a quick response if I had any queries .

Jill ElliottJanuary 15, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Lauren Dale"

Lauren Dale was so sensitive when dealing with my mums claim and she totally understood what i really wanted from the outcome. she kept me fully informed of everything, as and when it happened. I cannot thank her enough for her help and understanding on such a sensitive case. 5…

Jane from North YorkshieJanuary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent Service"

Excellent, professional and friendly solicitors. It was a very simple process and they kept in constant contact to update me on any developments. Would definitely recommend.

Philippa January 09, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Could not have been simpler or easier"

Could not have been simpler or easier, they did everything required and more. Nice, pleasant to talk to, they do all the leg work, put everything into context and resolve as quick as possible. Hopefully will not have to use again but if a situation arises then would not hesitate…

DarrenJanuary 08, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and always kept in touch…"

Very helpful and always kept in touch via email through the while process. Highly recommended

Joseph Conrad Waudby January 07, 2020