Holidaymaker who got sick on break to Turkey wins nine-year legal battle

Peter Griffiths fell ill after a holiday in Izmir, Turkey (Alamy/PA)
Peter Griffiths fell ill after a holiday in Izmir, Turkey (Alamy/PA) Peter Griffiths fell ill after a holiday in Izmir, Turkey (Alamy/PA)

A 61-year-old IT consultant who got sick on holiday in Turkey nearly a decade ago has won a Supreme Court compensation battle with tour operator Tui.

Judges in a county court and the Court of Appeal had ruled against Peter Griffiths, of Fleet, Hampshire, during a nine-year legal dispute.

But five Supreme Court justices have unanimously ruled in his favour.

Lawyers representing Mr Griffiths said the Supreme Court ruling meant he could get compensation and described the litigation as a “David v Goliath” dispute.

Tui court ruling
Tui court ruling Peter Griffiths got sick while on a holiday to Turkey with Tui (Owen Humphreys/PA)

They had indicated, at an earlier stage of the dispute, that any compensation awarded would be about £30,000.

Justices Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows and Lord Stephens had considered arguments at a Supreme Court hearing in London.

They upheld Mr Stephens’ challenge, to a ruling by Court of Appeal judges, on Wednesday.

Lord Hodge explained, in a written Supreme Court judgment, how Mr Griffiths, and his wife and son, had gone on a package holiday to a resort – the Aqua Fantasy Aqua Park Hotel in Izmir.

Mr Griffiths had sued Tui after suffering a “serious stomach upset” which had left him with “long-term problems”.

Justices said the dispute centred on a report by a medical expert.

Lord Hodge said the expert had “opined that, on the balance of probabilities, the food or drink served at the hotel was the cause of Mr Griffiths’ stomach upset”.

Tui had not required the expert to attend a county court trial for cross-examination.

But lawyers representing Tui had persuaded the trial judge that “deficiencies in the expert’s report” meant that Mr Griffiths had “failed to prove his case”.

“The appeal raises a question of the fairness of the trial,” said Lord Hodge.

“The question is whether the trial judge was entitled to find that the claimant had not proved his case when the claimant’s expert had given uncontroverted evidence as to the cause of the illness.”

He concluded that Mr Griffiths had not had a fair trial – and the four other justices agreed.

“Both the trial judge and the majority of the Court of Appeal erred in law in a significant way,” added Lord Hodge.

“The trial judge did not consider the effect on the fairness of the trial of TUI’s failure to cross-examine (the expert).”

Lord Hodge added: “In my view … Mr Griffiths did not have a fair trial.”

Lawyer Jatinder Paul, who represented Mr Griffiths and is based at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said after the ruling: “It’s been tough for Peter since 2014, dealing with the ongoing effects of his illness while also dealing with a David v Goliath legal battle against a tour operator with very deep pockets.

He added: “Following years of litigation, and numerous legal challenges, we’re delighted that the Supreme Court has now ruled that Peter did not receive a fair trial.”

Mr Griffiths said, in a statement released by Irwin Mitchell: “I am delighted, but also very relieved, that the Supreme Court has ruled in my favour.

“Following so many years of litigation, my case has taken a toll on my family and I, but I now feel vindicated that justice has been served by the highest court in the land, allowing us to move on with our lives.”