Travel Republic case: Firm caused ‘serious detriment’ to consumers

Travel Republic was accused yesterday of causing “serious detriment” to consumers by selling holidays in breach of the ATOL Regulations.

Stratford Magistrates Court in east London heard: “Travel Republic secured a commercial advantage and, in consequence, there was a loss by consumers of the protection that would otherwise exist under the ATOL scheme.”

Ian Croxford QC, counsel for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which brought the charges against the company and director Kane Pirie , said Travel Republic had engaged in “unlawful trading“, arguing: “What Travel Republic offered was two or more combined services – a package [holiday].”

Arguing that if the company was convicted, Pirie should also be found guilty, Croxford said: “Mr Pirie consented to the commission of the offences, not only as a director but as an active manager of Travel Republic.”

The CAA had written to the company to express its concern in September 2007, said Croxford, and from February 2008: “Pirie was fielded to deal with this. He knew the CAA considered Travel Republic in breach [of the regulations]. At no stage did Travel Republic seek to obtain an ATOL.”

Croxford said “a large number of consumer witnesses” would be called for the prosecution.

Hugo Keith, QC for Kane Pirie, said the defence would challenge the witnesses, arguing: “A large number of witness statements contain highly contentious statements.”
Counsel for the CAA said yesterday it would not present evidence to support two of the 40 charges on the grounds that a lay witness, who lives in Jersey, will not attend the court.

The case is expected to last three weeks.


How the case has developed

> October 12:Travel Republic boss in court over ATOL breach
>July 1:Travel Republic pleads not guilty to ATOL breach
>April 8: Travel Republic vs CAA case postponed until May [Travel Weekly]


Related posts from the Travolution blog

>Traveltek boss defends Travel Republic
>A critical moment for independent online agencies

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