Updated 15 December: The Confederación Española de Hoteles y Alojamientos Turísticos says that fake claims by the so called British ambulance-chaser style lawyers are now in the region of €50 million. CEHAT says that the matter is now considered so serious that the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Matilde Asián, is now taking charge of the matter.
The interest at a national level is due to the Government’s concern that such fake claims are damaging the impression of Spain among its main client base in the UK. The Spanish Government is already dealing with the UK’s Foreign Office in respect of potential measures to deal with the problem, and the FCO itself has now issued a statement that Spain is a secure destination and that to make fake claims is a crime that will result in prosecution.
Original post 15 September: Ashotel has denounced what ît says are British ambulance-chaser style lawyers inciting tourists in south Tenerife to make false claims against hotels. Association president Jorge Marichal met on Tuesday with representatives from the Canarian Government and National Police to convey the concern of hoteliers over the practice, which he says is carried out from “claims clinics”, which are no more than vans done up to look like ambulances. Marichal stressed that since the motive was purely financial the practice, which the association has watched develop throughout the summer, could be classed as “organized crime”.
The vans, with English text plastered over them to urge tourists to denounce hotels for a range of problems like food poisoning, have been circulating around south Tenerife, Ashotel says, stressing that the vans have even stopped at the doors of some hotels to capture “clients”. The practice is apparently already known in the Balearics and Andalusia, and Ashotel says that apart from being in contact with Government and police in Tenerife, it is also in contact with hotel associations in those areas to see what combined action may be possible. At the very least, Ashotel says, there is an issue with an unlicensed business being carried out by workers who, moreover, are not making social security contributions or complying with tax regulations.
Jorge Marichal said these were “pirate lawyers” who seemed to be associated with firms in the UK engaged in the same practices. Often, it seems, the claims are presented without even the most basic medical evidence, simply the allegation that the tourist became ill and had to buy medication, the unproven cost of which is claimed with threats of legal action if reimbursement were not to follow. The key, Ashotel says, is that the claims are then presented in the UK, causing hotels here either to face international legal action with elevated costs, or simply to pay up even though, Marichal says, the vast majority of the denuncias are false.