A recent Appeal Court decision has highlighted the issue of safety for travellers Moira Japp and Virgin Holidays Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1371.  Mrs Japp was on holiday in Barbados when the sliding glass doors to her hotel room balcony shattered causing her serious injuries. One of the issues the Court had to consider was whether safety standards set by the hotel should be judged by local standards or the safety standards that apply in the UK  which, in this case, were more stringent. The leading judgement on this issue is the case of Wilson v Best Travel Limited [1993] which also concerned glass patio doors in a hotel. In that case the Court decided that the standards to be applied were the local ones and that all a tour operator needed to do to demonstrate reasonable care was to make sure the local regulations were complied with.  The exception would be if the absence of a particular safety feature would cause a reasonable holiday maker to decline to take a holiday at the hotel in question. However, that approach also raises difficult questions because a holiday maker will not necessarily have the knowledge to identify health and safety failings nor is the issue likely to be at the forefront of a holiday maker’s mind.

 

Since the appeal in the Virgin case did not succeed on other grounds it was not necessary for the Court to examine the Wilson case. Therefore the prevailing rule continues to be that a holiday operator only has to prove compliance with local standards, even if those fall below UK standards, in order to demonstrate a duty of care.

 

It is worth remembering that persons working abroad also do not have the protection of UK health and safety regulations unless the activity is one that is caught by The Health and Safety at Work etc 1974 (Application outside Great Britain) Order 2001 which allows the Health and Safety Executive to enforce the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act outside the UK to work on offshore installations, wells and pipelines.

For more  advice on health and safety matters including accident investigation, attendance at interview, risk assessments and legal compliance please contact our Head of Health and Safety Denise Dowen on 0161 838 5423  denise.dowen@stripes.eu.