The travel industry has an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit which has seen it shape the development of law and regulation in this sector. We know this because we have been involved in these developments, helping our clients develop and implement new business models which challenge the traditional approach.
The internet has been a catalyst for change. It has allowed travel companies to change the way in which they communicate with their customers, offering much greater choice, flexibility and competition. The ubiquitous nature of the internet has been particularly important in allowing travel companies to reach customers in other jurisdictions without the usual economic and regulatory barriers to entry.
Travel law and regulation is founded in traditional concepts such as high-street travel stores selling package holidays, but it has been forced to change to keep up with new ways of doing business. Amendments to the ATOL Regulations in 2012 to introduce regulation of Flight-Plus is one such example, which was brought about directly as a result of the Civil Aviation Authority's failed prosecution of Travel Republic for the sale of Flight-Plus (in which we acted for Travel Republic). These changes will continue as advancements in technology allow the industry to find new ways of operating.
As the industry continues to evolve, some familiar issues will remain, for instance:
• Regulatory compliance with the Package Travel Regulations, the ATOL Regulations, Advertising and Data Protection law.
• All travel companies have basic obligations to ensure the safety of their customers and employees. This is important not only because of the potential criminal and civil liabilities faced by travel companies and their directors, but also because of the damaging impact a safety-related incident can have upon the reputation of the company.
• Ensuring that your business risk is reduced by having in place effective agreements with your commercial partners.
• Gearing your business up for a sale or a key acquisition.
We have experts who can help you with these matters. Our travel industry team is top-ranked in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. This is because we regularly act for well-known household names, as well as some of Europe's most exciting growth companies.
Notable deals / highlights
• Re-engineering our client's business model in order to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance and to minimise tax liabilities.
• Acting on behalf of an online travel agent in defending screen scraping proceedings.
• Advising large US online travel agents in designing and setting up their European web-based sales programmes.
• Acting for international airlines on denied boarding claims.
• Acting for various travel companies in acquisitions and disposals.
• Successfully defending our client company and its employees in a criminal prosecution following a safety-related incident.