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Travel law is quite a niche area of law, which can be particularly interesting, as it may involve pursuing a claim in a foreign jurisdiction. It is a very broad area, including overseas accident litigation, contractual recovery actions against overseas suppliers, package travel law and international and national regulatory compliance.
Some travel lawyers specialise in both claimant and defendant work, as travel insurers require advice as claimants for legal expenses claims, and also as defendants for personal liability claims against an insurance policy. Travel lawyers may also offer regulatory and contract advice to tour operators on the wording of their terms and conditions and related liabilities. Furthermore, there is a strong focus on personal injury claims for compensation that result from accidents abroad.
There are only a relatively small number of firms in the UK that specialise in travel law. If you are lucky enough to gain experience in this area, you will find it exciting, stimulating and varied.
Tell me more about travel law…
Having an accident abroad may not just ruin someone's holiday; it may also affect their future prospects. Therefore, legally assisting claimants during this difficult time can be invaluable.
There are many cross-jurisdictional issues that arise in this area of the law. It is often preferable for a claim to be raised in the UK when possible, as legal costs are recoverable in the event of a successful claim. It is important to consider the merits of pursuing a case abroad at a very early stage, as in some jurisdictions, the amount of damages recovered will be so low that to pursue an action will not be worthwhile; especially considering the legal costs involved.
The collation of information required is much the same as that of a personal injury lawyer. For instance, medical records are often vital. However, there are far more difficulties for a travel lawyer in acquiring this evidence, often due to obscure foreign laws or the need to place heavy reliance on foreign agents. It is also worth bearing global time differences in mind. For example, if you’re pursuing an action in Australia, it may only be possible to communicate with an agent either late at night or early in the morning!
I want to become a travel lawyer. What will I need?
The variety of claims and jurisdictions mean that no day in travel law is ever the same. You will deal with a wide range of incidents; from skiing and paragliding accidents, to airline incidents and food poisoning cases. A travel lawyer must have a thorough understanding of private international law and relevant EC legislation, in order to properly advise their client on the applicable legal issues in the relevant jurisdiction. You must also understand the English civil procedure rules for foreign accident litigation cases that are dealt with in this country.
When an action is pursued in a foreign jurisdiction, a travel lawyer will often utilise a foreign lawyer as their agent. These guys will advise on the local standards and other foreign law issues. Consequently, additional language skills are extremely helpful, although not essential.