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England is one of the most leading tourism destinations for many excellent reasons. Through out the years, if there is a place where tourism has been booming rapidly then it is definitely London. Be it recession, inflation or any other economical reason, tourism through out England (especially in London) is never or hardly affected. The Government Office for London states that tourism revenues constitute 10 per cent of London’s gross value added and contributes to the employment of up to 13 per cent of London’s workforce. According to the London Development Agency, visitors to London spend around £15bn each year. People living in the Middle East are known to constitute a large percentage of the tourists going to England every year.
The legal and regulatory framework
Every where we go and everything we do in our daily lives comprises of certain rules or laws that we have to follow. For example, while driving, it is against the law to jump the red signal and people can be fined for that. Every country has different laws when it comes to travel and tourism. The essence of English common law is that it is made by judges sitting in courts, applying their common sense and knowledge of legal precedent to the facts before them. A decision of the highest appeal court in England and Wales, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, is binding on every other court in the hierarchy, and they will follow its directions. The two types of laws which are emphasized in England in relation with travel and tourism are:
Criminal law is the primary means by which the government identifies actions that are considered wrong, damaging to individuals or to society as a whole or is otherwise unacceptable. The criminal law mainly identifies those crimes which will not be accepted by the state or the government and which can lead to imprisonment or fines if breached. There are some terms in criminal law which are important to understand such as prosecutor and defendant. The person bringing on the accusation on behalf of the Crown is known as the prosecutor and the person being accused is the defendant. Furthermore, criminal law only deals with punishing the offender and does not provide any kind of compensation to the prosecutor.
The burden of proof is much lesser in civil law than in criminal law. Civil law deals with disputes between individuals and organizations. Its main aim is to make people agree to the arrangements being made and to provide compensation for the party who has suffered if the party in questions fails to do so. It regulates conformity and relationships between individuals and groups. A civil case can be brought in the High Court or in the County Court.
Sources of Law
Legislation- these are laws that are made by the Parliament. A draft act is known as a bill. Once the bill has passed through many staged and has been approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it becomes an Act of Parliament. The bill cannot be considered as an act if it has not received the Royal Assent. These acts apply to UK and its part countries such as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Delegated legislation- It is when some of the powers to make laws are given by the Parliament to other officials such as county councils and government ministers. This is done in order to keep up with the constant growth and changes. It is not possible for the Parliament to deal with every small technical matter. Therefore, delegating the power to a government minister becomes necessary.
Judicial precedent or case law- Although there are considerably amounts of legislations in UK now, a large amount of common law which is the law made by the courts is still followed. Judicial precedent means that if the judge takes a decision for a presented case, he/she has to use the same principles and standards for similar cases so that the decisions remain consistent. A judicial precedent is a decision of the court used as a source for future decision making.
European Community (EC) law- Economic alliance formed in 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands to promote trade and cooperation among its members. The United Kingdom joined it in 1973. This meant that all the acts created under the EC should be followed by UK as these acts automatically became a part of UK law. The term EC is now used interchangeably with the term EU.
The role and regulatory powers of the authorized bodies
Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL)
ATOL is the biggest holiday protection system in UK. ATOL is the Government’s licensing and financial protection scheme for air holidays and packages sold by tour operators and travel organisers in the UK and is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority. It protects people from being left stranded abroad or from losing cash by providing financial checks to the firms it deals with.
Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
ABTA is the UK travel trade association for tour operators and travel agents. It had been working hard for over 50 years to give its visitors the best holiday ever by offering them higher qualities of standards, wide varieties of choices and value. ABTA has the ABTA Protection Plan that protects its customers from any harmful, unforeseen events.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA- UK)
The Civil Aviation Authority is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator. Through its skills and expertise it is recognised as a world leader in its field. It deals with safety and economic regulations as well as consumer protection policies. CAA conducts scientific research and provides the government with help on aviation problems. Also it regulates the airline industry and airports and ensures by its various schemes that the civil and military interests are brought together and that all its customers are protected.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
MCA mainly deals with providing protection at sea and the marine life. Its mission is to be one of the most known organizations which deal with the protection of ships, the marine life and in maintaining the cleanliness of the sea to help maintain a health and a safe environment. All their actions are towards sustainable development as they understand clearly that preserving the earths resources as much as they can is important for the human race.
The court system in England and Wales is divided into the criminal courts and the civil courts which are further broken into many divisions.
The criminal courts
a. Magistrate’s courts
They are the key part of the criminal courts system and more than 95% of the cases are settled in these courts. Magistrates’ courts do not have the rights to sign imprisonment for more than 6-12 months and they cannot fine people with more than £5000. Less serious matters such as theft, bribery, minor offences are solved here. Magistrates are appointed by the Crown and usually 3 magistrates listen to the case supported by a qualified Court Clerk.
b. Crown courts
The cases which are above the level of magistrates’ courts are dealt in Crown courts. Serious criminal cases such as murders and rapes which are passed on for appeal by the magistrates’ courts are settled here. Trials are heard by a Judge and a 12 person jury. Members of the public are selected for jury service or may have to go to court as witnesses. The Crown Court is based at 77 centres across England and Wales.
c. High Court: Queen’s Bench Division
This deals with cases such as breach of contract, negligence, inflicting injury, etc. The appeals are usually from the Magistrates’ courts and the Crown Courts. Many High Court judges and Masters are allocated to this part of the court.
d. Court of Appeal: Criminal Division
Cases passed on from the Crown Courts and Queens Bench Division are settled here. Only three people can address the court: solicitors, barristers and audience with really high authority. Mostly, this is the court considered for the ‘final’ appeals and it plays a vital role in protecting people’s rights in the justice organization.
e. Supreme court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme court is the final court of appeals in the UK for most criminal cases and it plays a fundamental role in the development of law in the United Kingdom. It emphasizes on cases which are of greater importance to the public and won’t accept a case until and unless it has been passed down by lower courts. There are maximum of 11 Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
The civil courts
a. Magistrates’ court
It is very similar to the criminal courts. The less severe cases such as debts, matrimonial disputes, gambling, alcohol abuse, housing problems etc are settled here. Everything else is similar to that of the criminal courts.
b. County court
County court deals with many civil actions and is usually also known as Small Claims Court where minor disputes such as credit card claims, adoption, divorces, loan debts, etc are settled. There are 216 of these courts throughout England and Wales. Appeals from here go to the High Court
c. High Court
This is organized into 3 divisions: The Queen’s Bench Division, the Chancery Division and the Family division. The Queen’s Bench Division deals with commercial matters which involves large amount of money. The Chancery Division deals with cases regarding businesses such as partnerships, insolvency, paten rights, etc, and the Family division deals with problems between families and relationships such as, marriages, divorces, adoptions, etc.
d. Court of Appeal: Civil Division
The Court of Appeal has been described as the engine room of UK judicial system in England and Wales. It hears appeals in all the leading cases in civil and family justice. Its judges are concerned with upholding the rule of law. Cases from all the 3 divisions of the High Court are either passed on to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court if left unsettled.
e. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was established with effect from 1 October 2009 by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, and assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, which include final appellate jurisdiction in civil cases throughout the UK, and in criminal cases in Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
Surface, Sea and Air Transport Law
Warsaw Convention 1929
As the airline industry gained popularity and rapidly started growing, rules and regulations for had to be developed internationally to protect the passengers. Therefore, the Warsaw Convention was formed in 1929 to regulate international carriage of passengers and safety of their luggage. The Convention states that all passenger’s tickets should mention the arrival and departure destinations, if the airline has any stopovers in any other countries and if the arrival and departure destinations are within the territory of a single HCP. Also, in regard with Baggage Checking, a baggage check must be given to the passengers who have given their luggage over to the carrier so that the rules on evidence of contract can be applied.
Domestic Air Travel
The EC Regulation on Air Carriers Liability 1997 and the Carriage by Air Act aims to harmonise the rules on air carrier liability and improve the level of compensation and protection of passengers involved in air accidents. Much of the domestic rules and regulations of air travel are now same as that of international air travel.
International Carriage by Sea
According to the Athens Convention 1974, there is a basic liability on the carrier if any death or injury is caused to the passenger or if there is loss or damage of the goods being carried due to the negligence of the carrier. The ‘carrier’ is the person with whom the contract was signed of carrying luggage/passengers and ‘performing carrier’ is the person who actually owns the ship, ferry, etc in which the goods were being carried. The liability only arises if the loss or damage was caused during the course of carriage or due to the fault of the carrier.
Domestic Carriage by Sea
The EC Council Directive on Safety Rules and Standards for Passenger Ships has been applied to improve safety standards on ships within the EU and the EEA States. If the ship/vessel is considered to have potential risks to human life or the environment, then this Regulation allows the suspension of the ship’s operation.
International Carriage by Road
The Geneva Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Road 1973 (CVR) applies to passengers that they can only ask for compensation if the carrier is liable for loss or damage to the passengers (mental or physical) or the luggage. If the damage is caused due to the breach of the carriers obligations and during the course of travel (indicated on the ticket) then the carrier is liable. Total damages can go up to 250,000 francs. Otherwise, if the damage was caused due to the negligence of the passenger or if a particular situation was unavoidable, then the carrier cannot be held liable.
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