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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50490
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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How do I take action against a hotel that failed to secure

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How do I take action against a hotel that failed to secure windows (no locking mechanism - simple window stays) on a ground floor room and the room was burglarised by a 3rd party. NB - hotel was at the time of the incident and still is 4 Star AA rated and AA requires any of it's rated hotels (and BnB's) to have securely locked ground floor / accessible windows.
Hotel has refused to communicate directly and passed to it's PL insurer - we have received an offer after a year of communications with the insurer and it is pityful. We feel that there may be recourse for further action. False advertising /misrepresentation in failing to provide accommodation of standard advertised - professional negligence - failing to operate hotel and protect guests and their property to a reasonable standard or maybe other similar grounds... I would really like to know if there are experts that deal with holiday problems that might be able to assist or whether a different type of legal expert (prof negligence) would be recommended. Thanks in advance.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Are you based in the UK?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, I'm in Australia currently.
I mean are you a UK resident or were you just visiting the UK?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm a UK/AUS citizen, living in Australia - on holiday at my time with my family (all Australian citizens).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'd rather talk if that's OK but it's my first time using the service, so no idea how it works...
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
and my internet connection has a habit of dropping in / out at the moment :-(
So do you have an address in the UK in the event you have to take matter further, such as through court?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My mother, father or brother all live in the UK so could use on of their addresses if that's allowed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The claimants would be myself and my family who are not UK citizens. In fact, my youngest just woke up so afriad I will need to leave the PC for a few mins...
What is the value of the losses you suffered?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
After our travel insurance, I detailed the actual financial losses to the PL insurer for $1740 approx GBP900. They have offered final settlement of roughly $700 approx GBP350. This was about all I was expecting, the bit I want to explore really is the non-financial losses which are difficult to express in a $$$ figure and the PL insurer has outright said it's not covering it's client for. Basically, if they consider their client to be liable and agree to pay for some physical items I want to know if we can push to also get some compensation for the non financial losses. Delayed onward trip to Paris, inconvenience of replacing passports and rearranging travel, threat to the security of our identities, loss of enjoyment, significant emotional stress and impact on our eldest child etc..
There is a general requirement for a hotel to exercise reasonable care in protecting your property. However, that does not mean that they have to take all possible precautions in ensuring that happens as long as what they have done is reasonable. You will find that a lot of hotels exclude any liability for theft or damage on their premises and would advise you to either take valuables with you or to keep them in dedicated safe boxes. There is a specific exception to this is if the hotel should have anticipated the crime and failed to prevent it. A good example is if the hotel was located in a known crime area and they had not taken precautions to deal with this by installing locks on windows then that would be negligent. A window stay is still a type of security – it does allow for the window to be locked although as any other method it will not be fool proof. The issue is whether it was reasonable to have such locks in that place and that would depend on the area and any previous issues of similar crime. Whatever you decide to do this would be a negligence claim that you would pursue. The issue is that most of the non-financial losses you will not be able to claim for. Loss of enjoyment is a possibility but that would be proportionate to the value you paid to stay there rather than the whole trip and would only be possible of the hotel was found negligent. Inconvenience, delays, potential threat to security, emotional damage etc are very unlikely to be covered. So be realistic with what you can recover. You can push them for more and even threaten legal action to try and press them to offer a better settlement but if they do not do so then all you can do is consider court action I’m afraid. You will need to do this from the UK and use an address here and when it comes to it you would be expected to appear in person so unless you can tie t in with a visit, you are likely to have to pay especially to attend and with no guarantee of success it could prove an expensive exercise. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you can follow to take the matter further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks Ben, I am not comfortable with accepting the GBP350 as full and final settlement of the issue - which is what the PL insurer has suggested. Yet, I had no idea whether it was worth taking it further through the court and based on your initial response it probably isn't going to be would be worth my time and effort. I'd still like to know what the steps would be as I have to discuss with my husband as ultimately it's a joint decision on what to do next and I would be able to tell him what it involves.
I would say it is probably unlikely their first offer is their best offer. So you could try and negotiate with them and as mentioned even threaten legal action to try and press them further, even if you have no intention on taking it that far. As to the steps you should take, whenever a dispute arises over compensation owed by one party to another, the party at fault can be pursued through the civil courts. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps: 1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the party at fault to voluntarily settle this matter. 2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the party at fault must be sent a formal letter asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue the compensation due. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action. 3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this. Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So, Ben if I may ask. I understand there's the Innkeepers Act which restricts liability. But I've also read clearly in the AA standards that windows must be secured when accessible from the ground floor (above the level of those not at the ground floor is what is implied here). The window in question was forced open very easily and when compared to the security on the front door which had a regular heavy duty hotel card key lock - the security of the window was appalling. You also had to already have gained access to the hotel premises to be able to get to the door. So the lack of security was heavily disproportionate when comparing the front door and the ground floor window... Theft in the area to individual property was (annecdotally) reasonably high - it's one of only a couple of hotels in that rural area.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Anyway, I think it's a point but seems it might not mean much from a legal standpoint - based on your previous info.
The AA Standards are not legally binding - they are there to determine how a location gets its star rating and if anything gives you the right to complain to the AA for awarding its stars when the relevant criteria for that rating had not been met. But you cannot hold them liable for the subsequent losses. Legislation wise there is the Hotel Proprietors Act but that limits liability unless it was deposited for safekeeping with the hotel and then it was lost. Otherwise, it is the common law principles of duty of care and negligence which I discussed earlier. Just due to the value of the claim, the fact you are abroad and also knowing it is for you to prove they were negligent, you may not wish to submit a claim but to try and push them further for settlement, at least by following the first two steps in my last response
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yup - and I figured that it might be my only avenue to try and deal with them directly and get more. So far the PL insurer has 'requested' that I only deal with them, but it seems that now they have made an offer that it's time to go back to the hotel management company and maybe even contact Accor as well to suggest that they increase their offer above what the PL insurer has offered. THANK YOU!! I'm going to bed now, have a great day.
You are welcome, good night