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Club Med ordered to pay €10k to French holiday couple

Holiday company Club Med has been ordered to pay €10,000 to a French couple after cancelling their luxury holiday cruise less than 24 hours before it was due to begin.

In such cases, the law states that the buyer must receive a payout of at least equal to the penalty they would have been required to pay if they had cancelled themselves.

The couple, known only as Jacques and Sandrine, had been booked to travel on luxury cruise ship the Club Med 2, on a tour of the Caribbean. The seven-day trip, which cost €7,800, was to be particularly special, as Jacques had planned to propose to Sandrine whilst aboard.

The couple had been due to fly to the Caribbean to begin their holiday on the Saturday morning, but on the Friday night, Club Med called them to let them know that their cruise had been cancelled, due to a “technical problem”.

This was later revealed to be a small leak in the ship’s hull due to corrosion.

The company offered several holiday alternatives of equivalent value, such as a stay in a Club Med village, but Jacques refused, as he did not want to propose to his partner in such a place.

The couple was then reimbursed for the entirety of their trip. Three months later they sought legal aid to recover extra damages.

Lawyer for the couple, Me Élisabeth Bronquard, asked the judge to apply the law and the Club Med conditions of contract in full.

She said: “This was a special trip for my clients, and it was cancelled the night before.”

The court found that the small leak in the hull was “foreseeable” and therefore not considered as a “force majeure” - which would have cleared Club Med of any liability.

Instead, the company was found to have received documents from a prior inspection of the cruise ship, which had revealed corrosion in the hull. Repair work was due to fix it, but this did not come in time to stop the small holes from appearing, or to avoid the cancellation of the couple’s holiday.

The judges acknowledged that Club Med had “taken maximum precautions” in cancelling the holiday once the damage was discovered, but ruled that the company should have fixed the hull corrosion sooner, and so the incident could not be dismissed as “force majeure”.

They also said that Club Med would be contracted to pay back at least the same as the couple would be been forced to pay, had they been the ones to cancel.

The final payment from Club Med included the €7,800 reimbursement for the holiday itself, plus €500 compensation for moral injury, and €2,000 to cover the couple’s lawyer fees.

At the time of writing, Club Med has neither officially responded to the case nor made any moves to appeal.

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