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Operator claims success in damages trial

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Virgin Holidays wins appeal clarifying industry issue

The UK tour operator Virgin Holidays has welcomed the outcome of a court case concerning a tourist who walked into a glass door. The operator said it had successfully overturned a point of “critical issue” to the travel industry.

Moira Japp suffered lacerations to her body from the accident at the Crystal Cove Hotel in Barbados. She brought a claim against Virgin Holidays for damages for personal injury. A judge initially ruled in favour of Japp awarding her £19,200 (€23,000), but Virgin appealed.

Virgin pointed to a comment made by the judge on how the suitability of the glass should have been assessed. The judge had said there was “a continuing duty on a hotel to have regard to safety issues and if necessary update facilities” and added that the company “should have been updating to comply with the [Barbados Building] Code.”

The Court of Appeal judges said that Virgin’s appeal failed “in its challenge to the judge’s finding of the fact that the doors did not comply with local standards at the date of their installation.”

However, crucially for the rest of the travel industry, the judges agreed with two of Virgin’s points of principle.

“If the relevant standards were those in force at the time of the accident, rather than at the date of installation, it would follow that hoteliers owe a continuing duty to tear out and replace all features of their premises that do not comply with developing standards,” the judgment read. “It cannot be correct that they are subject to such an onerous duty, and the [initial] judge was wrong to say that this hotelier was under such a duty.”

In a statement Virgin Holidays said the appeal had never been about unwillingness to pay damages to Japp.

“The main reason for the appeal concerned the first judge’s decision in the original trial that the date upon which the suitability of the glass should be judged against Barbados standards was the date of the accident – rather than the date that the hotel installed the window,” the operator said. “This was a critical issue to the holiday industry, and we’re very pleased that the Court of Appeal agreed with us and we were successful in overturning this point.”

TTG Digital

[pictured: Crystal Cove Hotel, Barbados]

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