On 22 February 2010 Mr Justice Owen handed down his judgment that a British holiday company, Hotelplan Ltd, trading as Inghams Travel, were liable to compensate Stewarts’s client, Emma Moore, for damages for the paraplegia she sustained in an accident on a snowmobile on 18 January 2007. Emma had been on a skiing trip with Inghams, during the course of which their tour rep arranged an excursion on high powered snow mobiles. Emma had no previous experience of riding a snowmobile and when she lost control near the end of the excursion she was unable to stop and crashed into a parked car.
Mr Justice Owen in his judgment said he had no hesitation in accepting the evidence from the claimant and other members of her party that Adriano Tantera, who was the guide and owner of the snowmobiles, had failed to instruct them about the use of an emergency stop switch. He went on to find that had she known about the emergency stop switch, she would have pressed it and that would have prevented the accident. However, he reduced the compensation by 30% to reflect his finding that the initial loss of control was attributable to Emma. The Judge rejected Inghams arguments that if anyone was liable it ought to be Mr Tantera and found them liable for breach of contract. He concluded that the booking for this snowmobile trip was made with Inghams, in the resort and although not part of the original holiday contract it was still subject to the booking conditions in the brochure, in which Inghams had accepted liability for the acts and omissions of their suppliers.
The requests for permission to appeal made by the barristers for both Inghams and Mr Tantera were declined by Mr Justice Owen.
Emma Moore is represented by Julian Chamberlayne, Head of the International Injury department at Stewarts who commented:
“This was an accident that should not have happened. Snowmobiles are very powerful machines, rather like high powered motorbikes and to send a complete beginner out into mountainous terrain at night without even telling her how to stop the machine in an emergency was clearly negligent. It is a shame that Emma has had to face such a long hard fight to establish that Inghams are liable to compensate her for these life changing injuries. Unfortunately when things go wrong British holiday companies all too often try and distance themselves from excursions like these, even though they are promoted, arranged and sold by their in resort representatives and from which they earn substantial profits.”
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