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ATIA amends Member Charter to factor ‘Non-Economic Losses’

The association has also adjusted its Code of Conduct in response to a long-running High Court case stemming from a 2015 river cruise, as MATT LENNON writes.

Non-economic losses can now be considered in the ATAS Complaints Resolution Process in a change announced today by the Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA).

The change was introduced in response to a recent High Court ruling in the long-running Moore Vs Scenic Tours Pty Ltd case, a class action resulting in significant disruption to a Scenic river cruise in Europe caused by high water levels, which set a precedent to allow for ‘disappointment and distress’ to be viable reasons for damages in Australian law.

ATIA has now proactively acted to modify its Charter and ATAS Code of Conduct to allow for damages of up to $1,500 per complaint where similar circumstances and an ATAS member’s breach of the Code negatively impacted the complainant’s experience.

The association says the move was made to save time and costs for both members and consumers working to resolve disputes, to save time-consuming court costs and administrative workloads.

ATIA Chief Executive, Dean Long, said he was unaware of another industry association offering such a comprehensive complaints policy which includes having determinations made by an independent third-party committee.

“To maintain our industry-leading ATAS complaints process, we must continually evolve to offer consumers and our members a genuine alternative to formal litigation,” Long said.

“We have already invested significant resources in ensuring ATAS provides an efficient and cost-effective mechanism to resolve complaints, benefiting both customers and our members.

“For most of our members, the Complaints Escalation Process provided by ATAS is something that operates in the background however, as the 95 ATAS businesses involved in complaint resolution in 2023 know, this process [is] a thorough and appropriate way to address consumer complaints.

“The ATAS Advisory Committee’s feedback and advice on the approach to best accommodate the legal precedent set by the High Court on non-economic loss has been invaluable and reinforced the wisdom of setting it up as an additional review point.”

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