ABTA is launching a new, independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme for personal injury.

The conciliation scheme has been launched to offer a simple and cost effective means for members and consumers to resolve personal injury claims, including holiday sickness claims, up to £10,000.

The independent ADR scheme offers travel companies and holidaymakers a means of resolving complaints without the need to go to court, which can be costly and time-consuming.

ADR decisions take no longer than eight weeks from start to finish. Additionally, with ADR there is no need for the holidaymaker to work with a claims management company, meaning that they would receive any award in full. The scheme is administered by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).

Since changes to the law in 2013, there has been a dramatic rise in holiday sickness claims, which now represent nine in ten personal injury complaints received by ABTA members – a figure that stood at around 60% in 2013. Due to a loophole in the law, holiday sickness claims have become a lucrative area for claims management companies who typically take a significant cut out of any award. ABTA’s ADR is open to holidaymakers who have booked with an ABTA travel company and are unable to resolve their differences through the company’s complaints process.

The scheme is voluntary and both parties have to agree to use it. It involves disputes about an injury or sickness that the customer alleges was the fault of the company (or one of their suppliers if they were on a package holiday).

Simon Bunce, the association's director of legal affairs, said: “The new ADR scheme means that people who have travelled with an ABTA tour operator can now access a straightforward, cost-effective and fair resolution service for personal injury claims without the need to go to court. This enables members to save on legal costs and holidaymakers to save time and sidestep claims firms that are likely to take a large slice of any award.”

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