It is often said that travel & leisure is one of the most regulated industries, and this is undoubtedly true – the powers that be have at least recognised that we are providing services that serve people’s dreams and relaxation, and that is aside from the all-important customer money side of things. If anything, the last big set of changes in 2018 did not necessarily change that much for the majority of businesses, although it may not always seem that way!
At the time of writing there are various regulatory changes on the horizon, of varying degrees. Chiefly there is the ongoing ATOL reform piece, which in theory is due to start seeing actual change in April 2024, but is surely going to take longer than that. In truth there is no real way to say what is going to happen with the reforms, if anything. The CAA has a lot of feedback and a lot of options – we, Travlaw, have already made predictions including that, for instance, variable ATOL Protection Contribution (“APC”) will be a development, but we also accept that any option like that leads to more questions such as “Hang on – variable on what?”! One way or another the reforms here will affect pretty much every kind of travel business to some degree. In other news, it doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since the Package Travel Regulations saw their big “redux” back in 2018, but we stand, in theory, on the cusp of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) publishing their own proposals on what they see as being best for the UK. We don’t expect there to be any significant changes, but we wait with baited breath as to whether Linked Travel Arrangements will survive (we think they won’t, or will be absorbed into the definition of packages) and if there will be anything in it for travel & leisure businesses to give better flexibility in the event of another global pandemic.
There always seems to be something going on with consumer rights generally, and data/GDPR – but no matter what, rest assured that as soon as there is anything you need to know about, we will be saying it loudly and clearly!
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill
Workplace harassment unfortunately continues to be common and often goes unreported.
Earlier in the year we wrote about proposed changes to the laws of harassment under The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill, which when proposed last year would have;
1. Protected staff from harassment committed by third parties; and
2. Introduced a new duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment.
We can confirm that the first proposal to protect staff from third parties has been abandoned. This focused on staff being harassed by customers, clients, suppliers and the like. There was concern particularly in the hospitality sector that staff may hear comments for example that they did not like and found offensive and the employer could do little to prevent them. The governments reasoning for abandoning this proposal was that this measure did not just affect people working in hospitality for example, but also anyone who deals with the public such as the health, social and teaching sectors to name but a few.
In terms of the proposal to introduce a new duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, this has been watered down. Now, instead of taking “all reasonable steps” to prevent such sexual harassment taking place, the duty will be to “ take reasonable steps”. At first glance the change may not seem that big, but actually it is! Having to take all reasonable steps meant that employers would have to take “every” reasonable step, whereas now employers have to show that they have taken “reasonable steps”, but won’t be penalised for not taking every reasonable step. Therefore making it easier for employers to meet the test.
In taking reasonable steps, employers should educate and train their staff on a regular basis on what is and is not acceptable behaviour, supported through appropriate policies.in addition employers should treat any such complaints of sexual harassment seriously and investigate them and if need be take appropriate disciplinary action for breach of any such standards. It is likely that the amendments will become law in Autumn 2024, but in the meantime if you would like advice on how to navigate this very topical subject please do get in touch.
Our Litigation team recently defended a personal injury claim where a guest slipped in a hotel spa in Portugal suffering quite nasty injuries, again emphasising the importance of expert advice on local standards.
The Claimant’s lawyers obtained an expert report from a Portuguese lawyer to evidence, they believed, local standards in Portugal. The report, in fact, wrongly focused on Portuguese Law, which was irrelevant to the case and the Judge subsequently dismissed the claim on 11/08/2023, finding that the Claimant had failed to prove any breach of local standards. Travlaw successfully defended the claim with the assistance of Expedia, the InterContinental Hotels Group and Katharine Bailey from 3 Hare Court.
A more detailed article on this case will be published shortly, keep your eyes peeled!
Our commercial team remain busy with a wide variety of instructions ranging from updates to booking conditions and supplier agreements to providing advice on the PTRs and ATOL regulations.
Whilst all things ‘data related’ are relatively quiet at the moment in terms of drafting amendments, change certainly seems on the horizon with the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill moving to its third reading and the UK having made a commitment in principle to establish a ‘data bridge’ with the US. Our team are currently putting plans in place to host a special 2 part data webinar to cover the current state of play and to also take a look at what the future of data may hold from a commercial drafting perspective. Communications on how you can sign up for that will be sent in due course!
Our recent article on Events briefly mentioned ‘Martyn’s Law’, a proposed law to ensure that venues at risk of terrorism are fully prepared to act in the event that something happens. The law could place requirements on venues, to ensure that safety measures and procedures are in place to protect the public. This could have an impact on many of our clients, certainly those hosting large scale events, as such, our commercial team are keeping up to date with how this proposal progresses and will update as and when further information is available.
Finally, we’ve also recently undertaken some team training for one of our lovely clients at their head office, on all things package and ATOL related. We’re really enjoying being back out and about and it’s great to meet our clients on their own turf, so if you ever have a need for some advice or a more detailed training session ‘in-house’, please do get in touch to discuss your requirements.
Team News and Events
As for events, you will see a few Travlaw faces at the following upcoming events, please do come over and say hello or get in touch beforehand, we’d love to meet for a coffee and a chat:
Hot Topics Live!
Given the success and demand we have seen for our online Hot Topics, we’re very excited to announce that we will be taking Hot Topics ‘on the road’ by hosting a live, in person event on the 3rd October in London. Keep your eyes peeled for more details coming soon!
And finally…..Congratulations go to two members of our Commercial Team this month. Trainee solicitor Katherine invited the whole Travlaw team along to celebrate her wedding that took place in August – Congratulations Katherine!
Our second congratulations goes to long standing member of the firm, Katie, who took up a promotion to Senior Associate as of the 1st September.
This article was originally published on: 5 September 2023