(1) Turpin (2) Turpin v TUI UK Limited (2020)
Mr and Mrs Turpin did not have very good holiday at the TUI Sensimar Oceanis Beach and Spa Resort. They went with their friends and expected a good time away in Greece. Both Mr and Mrs Turpin fell ill, with Mr Turpin requiring medical treatment at the local health centre.
There didn’t appear to be any others who fell ill (at least not that Mr & Mrs Turpin were aware of). What was common knowledge was the issue with flies in the hotel’s buffet. This wasn’t restricted to just Mr & Mrs Turpin and co, complaints were found on TripAdvisor:-
“IF YOU LIKE EATING FLIES BOOK THIS HOTEL
The food is covered in flies. Absolutely disgusting. I counted up to 20 flies on one pudding at one point. We could not eat. I was ill one night after eating there. We took pictures of all the flies on the window next to us and on the table we were trying to eat at.”
“The one evening I looked at the fish dish which had at least 20 flies sitting on it so I pointed this out to one of the chefs so he could remove it before anybody ad it but he only wafted them away and left it sitting there for guests to eat.”
To add insult to injury (the injury being TUI denying liability for Mr and Mrs Turpin’s illness) was the hotel’s manager admitting that there had been a fly problem – even in response to Mr Turpin’s own TripAdvisor complaint:-
“….[the] main issue was the excessive amount of flies in our main restaurant, something for which we sincerely apologize. Obviously this comes from the hot weather and humidity that prevails on the island but since then a lot of drastic measures have been taken and the problem has been solved to the possible maximum.”
Everyone knows that flies are a carrier of bacteria and other pathogens. The Turpins and myself simply could not believe TUI were going to defend the claim at trial. However along came October 2019 and I received the email from the trial Barrister (instructed to argue the case at trial) to advise we had lost.
I read the reasoning and knew the Judge had made some serious errors in fact and law. When I called the Barrister to discuss appealing the decision I received a lukewarm response. The Barrister was not convinced there would be a reasonable prospect of an appeal and was not willing to act for Mr and Mrs Turpin on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Mr & Mrs Turpin were deflated from the loss at trial and just wanted to put the matter behind them. However I advised them that I would seek permission to appeal by drafting the appeal myself (usually prepared by a Barrister). I knew why the Judge had erred and I wanted to fight for Mr & Mrs Turpin. They agreed that I could seek permission to appeal and I drafted the appeal.
Appeals in civil litigation are now less likely to be granted permission to appeal due to the change in rules. However the Appeal Judge (Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith) granted permission to appeal without even listing the matter for a hearing – she was satisfied the appeal had sufficient prospects just from reading the appeal I had drafted.
The matter was listed to be heard on the 17th August 2020 (to also allow TUI to make submissions as to why the appeal should not be granted) and I instructed a new Barrister (Dominique Smith) and a week after we heard from the Judge that she would be giving a written Judgment confirming that Mr & Mrs Turpin appeal was allowed and they would be awarded compensation for their illnesses and ruined holiday.
The decision (although not binding on other courts) was of such importance, it was written about by one of the most recognised civil ligation barristers in a blog followed by hundreds of litigation practitioners (read here). I even had Solicitors (acting for a family on the same holiday as my clients) forward me the Judgment which they believed to be very helpful and thought I may be interested in it (unaware that Mr & Mrs Turpin were my own clients).
Many law firms would have closed the file after the loss but I knew the Judge was wrong and when the trial Barrister was unwilling to assist, I took matters into my own hands to ensure my clients got the result they deserved.
Despite not being a binding precedent, my case of Turpin v TUI has been referred to by many law firms and Barristers. I was even sent my own Judgment to me by a law firm acting for a fellow holidaymaker of one of my clients.
I am very grateful for Dominique Smith of 1 Chancery Lane for representing Mr & Mrs Turpin at their appeal hearing – see her profile here
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Why Do People Bring Claims For Holiday Sickness?
Many people are initially reluctant to make a holiday sickness claim. Some are embarrassed about the idea of having to talk about the symptoms. Some read the news and see the stereotype attached to making holiday sickness claims (suggestion of fraud and a ‘compensation culture’). The common feature is that most of my clients wouldn’t even need me if the travel agent simply acknowledge that there was an illness, that it was likely caused by the hotel and that they were sorry it happened. I would say at least 8/10 of my client would not have made their holiday sickness claim if the travel agent simply apologised.
The main reasons for bringing a holiday sickness claim is to get recognition that their holiday was ruined. Some clients feel they wasted many days of the holiday feeling sick, needing to use the toilet so frequently that they could not enjoy the holiday…. some even have to spend time in a hospital being treated by medical staff who may or may not have a sufficient grasp of the English language.
One of my clients were outright accused of lying and making the illness up. My client was so outraged by the allegation that this pushed her to make a holiday sickness claim where previously, the thought had never crossed her mind.
Many people incur a financial loss as a result of a holiday sickness. Some do not have insurance and have to pay the medical bills up front (or may still pay an excess), some return to the UK still ill and lose time off work. A holiday sickness claim is just not about claiming compensation, it is also about getting recognition that the holiday was ruined as a result.
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As a Consultant Lawyer, I do not have the same overheads as a law firm (such as paying for office space, equipment, staff members) and as such do not have to take on as many client compared with lawyers in a law firm. Some holiday sickness law firms can have lawyers dealing with a case load in excess of 100 cases.
I do not have that issue and as such will have more time to deal with your holiday sickness claim. You don’t have to compromise quality yet your claim will be still dealt on the same “No Win, No Fee” as any other personal injury firm.
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Of course, it is your statutory right to bring a claim for redress if there has been a failure to perform contract or there has been a breach of your terms. Many of my clients book holidays with the Defendant whilst bringing a holiday sickness claim claim again them with no issues.
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