More and more people are going on holiday to Europe by bus and coach transport, as many see it as a cheaper option. But what protection is there for the consumer?
Currently, in contrast to other modes of transport, such as the Montreal Convention (for carriage by air), the Athens Convention (for travel by sea), the Rail Passengers Regulations and the Berne Convention (for travel by rail) there are neither international agreements, nor Community legislation establishing bus and coach passenger rights.
The European Commission has, however, drawn up proposals for a Regulation on the Rights of Passengers in Bus and Coach Transport. PEOPIL (the Pan European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers) has given feedback on the proposals.
Most importantly the proposed regulations currently make no reference to an award of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity after suffering personal injury.
With regards to compensatory awards for financial losses, an injured person must establish that the costs were 'necessary'. This is a higher threshold than the usual test of reasonableness and consequently it will be harder to recover as much compensation for out-of-pocket expenses as would normally be the case with an RTA in the European Union.
The proposed Regulations also offer no entitlement to bereavement damages in relation to a fatal accident although it does allow damages for loss of dependency in limited circumstances. These damages are only payable when there is a 'legal' duty to maintain a person, whereas in the Rail Passengers Regulation, for example, there is no such requirement.
There is no indication as to when the final proposal is likely to be forthcoming so it remains to be seen how much protection it will afford the consumer.