Any right to compensation will depend on a number of
Travellers who book travel accommodation online and are injured
overseas may be able to make a claim against a website under the
Australian Consumer Law, or may be entitled to compensation through
the laws of torts or contract.
When the dream holiday turns into a nightmare
We often hear of Australian holidaymakers being at a loss when
their holiday accommodation doesn't match the glowing
description they read before they made the booking. But what if
your accommodation is actually dangerous? What if you are injured
by dodgy electrical wiring, or slip on a wet floor under a leaking
You might end up in a foreign hospital, or being medically
evacuated back to Australia. Do you have a legal right to
compensation if you used a website to book and pay for your dream
holiday and it turns out to be a nightmare?
Who is the contract with when you book accommodation
When booking accommodation online, your rights will depend on
whether you are booking directly with the accommodation provider or
through a booking agent. You should check the terms and conditions
on the website and look out for any disclaimers.
If the website is simply a booking agent, your contract will be
between you and the accommodation provider. The website merely
facilitates that contract.
Your legal rights under the Australian Consumer Law
Consumers in Australia are protected by the Australian Consumer Law. Even
if you did not enter a contract with the party behind a website,
you could still potentially have rights against the website under
the Australian Consumer Law. It is worth exploring this
What happens when Australian Consumer Law does not apply?
The legal rights which exist under Australian Consumer Law do
not apply to the provision of services by an individual person
– such as when you agree to rent a spare room in
someone's home through Airbnb.
However, when you rent a room from an individual, there may be
legal recompense through the law of torts, which includes rights to
compensation for personal injury if the property owner breaches
their duty of care. If you entered a contract with the individual,
you might also have a claim for breach of contract.
In this situation the law is far more complex and the laws of
different jurisdictions may apply to your rights in contract and
tort. It would be best to consult a legal expert on travel law in
Prudent steps to take when planning travel
Regardless of your overseas travel plans, it is sensible to take
out travel insurance and register your overseas travel plans with
Smart Traveller, particularly if you are travelling in areas
where there is a high crime rate or civil disruption.
If you are injured overseas, embassies tend only to provide
emergency consular assistance in the foreign country. However, you
might be entitled to personal injury compensation, so it would be
wise to consult a personal injury lawyer experienced in travel law
when you return home.
The route to the Amendment Act has been a rather arduous.
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