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Holiday Injuries; is it a Package Holiday?

A)            If an Irish tourist is injured by, say, a taxi in Rome, while crossing the street, any claim for compensation will have to be litigated in Italy. That, presumably, is the place where the taxi driver resides.

B)            If, as it might happen, the Irish tourist is injured in Rome by a hired car driven by a person from Ireland the claim for compensation may be taken in Ireland (being the place where the wrongdoer [or one of them] resides).

C)            If an Irish tourist is injured while driving a defective car hired by him in Rome (after he arrived there), due to the defect, any claim for compensation will have to be litigated in Italy. That, presumably, being the place where the car hire company resides.

Each of the cases above is an instance of the basic rule in EU law; the defendant is entitled to be sued in the place where he resides (or the place of the performance of the contract).

There are exceptions to the basic rule. The significant exception, for tourists (who are almost always “consumers”) arises where the tourist has booked a “package holiday”.

“Package [holiday]” is defined in Section 2 (1) of the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995.

“”package”, subject to subsection (2), means a combination of at least two of the following components pre-arranged by the organiser when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than twenty-four hours or includes overnight accommodation—

a ) transport;

b ) accommodation;

c ) other tourist services, not ancillary to transport or accommodation, accounting for a significant proportion of the package;”

Section 20 of the Act makes the organiser liable for “the proper performance of the obligations under the contract”;

“20.—(1) The organiser shall be liable to the consumer for the proper performance of the obligations under the contract, irrespective of whether such obligations are to be performed by the organiser, the retailer, or other suppliers of services but this shall not affect any remedy or right of action which the organiser may have against the retailer or those other suppliers of services.”

Normally, a package holiday is booked in the tourist’s home country. Even is this is not the case, where the organiser directed his “activities” to the consumer’s home state the consumer is, as an exception to the basic EU rule, entitled, in both cases, to litigate disputes arising, in the tourist’s home state.

Of course the dispute must relate to “the proper performance of the obligations under the contract”.

So, if a consumer of a package holiday is injured abroad, consequent on a failure to properly perform the obligations of the package holiday contract, the consumer may issue proceedings in Ireland seeking compensation.

What are the “the obligations under the contract”? Read the contract. That reveals the explicit obligations. In addition, it is implicit that the persons supplying the services will do so competently and with proper premises and materials. That means that injuries from food poisoning, or road accidents caused by the negligence of drivers or mechanics are all suitable to be litigated under the 1995 Act, conditional on those services causing the injury being part of the “obligations under the contract”.

It is often possible to buy “add-on” excursions when in the package holiday destination. By definition, these are likely to be outside the scope of the package holiday.