Jet2 wins landmark court decision
Jet2holidays has won a landmark court decision which has wide implications for companies looking to combat fraud.
The decision paves the way for companies to take action against dishonest claimants, even if they don’t actually submit legal proceedings.
In this case, Jet2holidays had issued contempt proceedings against Karl and Laura Hughes from Nottingham, after they brought a claim against Jet2holidays for gastric illness following a holiday to Lanzarote in 2016.
The couple alleged they had contracted food poisoning as a result of eating contaminated food, and served witness statements verified by a statement of truth detailing the extent of their illness in April 2017.
But evidence was found that undermined these claims, including Facebook and Twitter posts and 45-minutes of GoPro footage on YouTube showing Mr Hughes enjoying a snorkelling-trip despite claiming to be ill.
The couple later withdrew the claims, before formal proceedings had been issued, but Jet2holidays decided to issue contempt proceedings anyway.
His Honour Judge Owen QC at the High Court originally struck this out, arguing that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the committal proceedings.
But Jet2holidays appealed that decision and the Court of Appeal held unanimously that the High Court did have jurisdiction to commit for contempt of Court, and it was sufficient that statements had been served in the pre-action protocol phase.
Jet2holidays was also awarded costs of its appeal, and the decision means that the company’s original contempt proceedings against Mr and Mrs Hughes can now progress.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “Jet2holidays continues to lead the way in the fight against fake sickness claims, and this landmark decision shows that the courts take this issue very seriously. The decision by the Court of Appeal to allow us to progress with contempt proceedings against Mr and Mrs Hughes, despite no legal proceedings being issued, has wide reaching implications not only for tour operators dealing with false sickness claims, but the insurance industry in general.
“The ruling send should send a warning to others. If documents are found to contain false information, contempt of court proceedings can and will be brought, even when the claimants have decided not to commit to legal proceedings.
“Jet2holidays has led the way in stamping out fake claims made for gastric illness and we will continue to investigate and defend any claims that are dishonest or illegitimate.”
Ronan McCann, managing partner at Horwich Farrelly, the law firm representing Jet2holidays, said: “This is a truly landmark ruling in the fight against fraudsters. Often fraudulent claims are submitted by solicitors on the basis that if they are rejected the fraudster does not have to issue proceedings and submit a claim elsewhere so is not exposed to any risk.
“This case confirms that this is no longer the case. If a fraudster is willing to submit such claims, even if they do not litigate, they are now exposed to a prison sentence. The days of submitting risk free fraudulent claims are well and truly over.”