Travlaw Hot Topics – August 2020

Senior Counsel Stephen Mason, Commercial Solicitor Gemma Wilson, and Associate Solicitor Krystene Bousfield were first up to take on the Hot Topics affecting the travel industry today

Stephen spoke on the effects of the FCO advice on Spain and what might happen going forward. Gemma took us through how to ‘future proof’ your agreements. Krystene brought us up to date on chargebacks.

See the video below for the full zoominar;

The zoominar saw Travel Law experts Stephen Mason, Gemma Wilson & Krystene Bousfield tackle subjects such as;

  • the up to date thinking on the legal effect of FCO advice
  • what companies can do to best position themselves for future bookings
  • the latest on Chargebacks, which continue to be a real barrier to companies getting back on their feet.

We received lots of questions, most of which were answered on the zoominar, but here are a few we didn’t get around to first time…

Is there a link to the Visa and Mastercard guidance regarding chargebacks?

Krystene – Yes there is! You can find the Visa guidance here, and the Mastercard advice here.

If guests can’t travel either for a UK or overseas holiday due to sudden lockdown measures or track/trace  what should a tour operators response be?

Gemma – In circumstances where you are acting as a package organiser, if the customer cannot travel because of a local lockdown where they live, or they are prevented from travelling because they are showing coronavirus symptoms, this would be classed as a cancellation on the part of the customer, as they would be unable to travel. You are able to provide the services but the customer is unable to make use of them. Accordingly, the cancellation fees will be in line with whatever is set out in your Ts and Cs, and the customer should speak to their travel insurer in relation to recovery of a refund.
However, if the lockdown is at the customer’s destination or its immediate vicinity, that would likely be “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances” under the Package Travel Regulations, which either (a) significantly affect the performance of the package or (b) significantly affect the transport arrangements to the destination. Accordingly the customer will be entitled to a full refund but no compensation

When a chargeback has not been disputed within the designated time frame, but a client has received a direct full refund & a chargeback to the same value, do tour operators have any option to reclaim the money given that the client has received it twice?

KrysteneAbsolutely! It’s a tricky situation having to approach your own customers, saying that they need to pay you back but, simply put, they have received double recovery and are sitting with money that they are not entitled to. I would suggest approaching it gently in the first instance and asking that they return payment accordingly. It may be an honest mistake and they are happy to play ball however, if they refuse, it may be a case of issuing a legal claim against them.

What is the legal interplay between FCO travel advice, the rights of customer’s to cancel free of charge under the PTD and ABTA’s Code of Conduct rules/guidance on FCO advice?

Stephen – The PTR’s impact is as per my talk and article on our website. ABTA is a private association whose rules are agreed by, and binding on, its members. ABTA can enforce any rules which have been agreed to, whether they are reflected in the PTR’s or additional to them.

Due to the CMA action on holiday accommodation bookings, does this mean force majeure will always mean the travel organiser is liable going forward?

StephenIn reality, I guess you are right! But the CMA is NOT the law – if anyone feels brave enough and committed enough to challenge the CMA, it would be up to a court to decide.

We’ll be doing more Hot Topics events in the future, so to be notified of the next one, make sure you subscribe to our emailsfollow us on Twitter or join us on LinkedIn.

And don’t forget you can still catch up on our previous online event, The Little Tent Event, featuring speakers from Barclays, White Hart Associates to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry.

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