Friday 13 October, 2017, will be remembered as the day when Consumer Access to Justice for their Holiday Claims, came under a serious attack from a calculated and coordinated agenda.
It was the day when the government, intent on furthering the 'compensation culture' agenda, launched its 4 week Consultation on whether they should make substantial changes to how these claims are prosecuted in civil law. In essence, they are proposing that the majority, if not all holiday accident and injury claims, are subject to a fixed costs regime, along with importing a strict protocol on how a case will progress. The government is keen to import these changes against what it considers to be a rampant Claims Management Industry. Those views have been bolstered by a Travel Industry in the ascendancy, who exclusively offer Ministers their statistics and considered opinion.
The Independent Consumer Campaigner, Frank Brehany, has for several years not only highlighted the rise of the 'super' Claims Management Companies but has also clearly condemned the activities of these companies, governments and what appears to be a lack of will toward the full sanction of the criminal law and enforcement opportunities.
Frank has submitted a report to the Ministry of Justice, detailing his viewpoint, based on his experience and contact with Consumers. Within the report he highlights for example:
- The shift in balance by government toward an Industry to the detriment of the Consumer/Citizens;
- Clear concerns on how Consumer data is freely traded;
- Engagement with the Travel Industry;
- The 'cause and effect' of Government Policy;
- He challenges the notion that it is 'just the Brits';
- He challenges the statistics claimed against the government's own figures on compensation claims;
- He expresses concerns about the proposed changes and how this will lead to a greater rise in Consumer detriment;
- Concerns about the overall effect on Consumer legislation and future threats from a 'reassessment' of those Rights, and
- A call to release all notes and records of meetings held between government and the Travel Industry and for government to act with a broader due diligence in their inquiry.
Frank Brehany, the Independent Consumer Campaigner states:
"There is no doubt that this is in my view a disproportionate attack upon the vast majority of Consumers who simply want to seek justice for their Consumer Complaints. It appears that government policy is being created on the back of the 'compensation culture' mantra, their failure to create the conditions for enforcement of current laws and upon the closed-door representations of a Travel Industry, one faux-claims-ambulance and several arrests in Spain".
"What is of even greater concern is the goal of grouping together several Consumer Laws into these proposals and severely limiting a Consumer/Citizen's opportunity for equality before the law; equally I am concerned that this is just the first step to 'red-line' these laws in the future-rush to 'de-regulate' UK Society".
"Government must now demonstrate, particularly as 'sovereignty' is returning to the UK parliament, that they are governing for all people and not just vested interests. They must resist the call to impose disproportionate measures and in particular demonstrate very clear and open dealings in any pre-meetings and subsequent Consultations they carry out; in the case of Holiday Claims, this has been totally absent. I call upon the government to rethink their current approach and strategy on Holiday Claims and indeed on Consumer Protections and Access to Justice".