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Coronadvice 14 –What happens if tour operators don’t refund their customers now?

30/03/2020

In today's coronadvice, we will discuss the question of cancelling travel packages and its consequent impact. We will explain how to deal with some of the legal obligations of tour operators during the current emergency state.


In Coronadvice 1 we explained that the current legislation only considers some of the situations that tour operators are facing in relation to their customers. In Coronadvice 2, Coronadvice 3, and Coronadvice 5, we dealt with the controversial situations in terms of refunds or cancellation charges. In Coronadvice 8, we mentioned that an agreement with a tour operator on voucher issuance or on date change is an ideal solution for both disputable situations, and for situations when the tour operator is not yet ready for a refund.


Tour operators know that under normal circumstances they are bound by certain legal time limits. But how does it work at this time when most of the situations are disputable? In our opinion, the time limits for refunding money to customers are not applicable during this time of disputes. The statutory time-limits are binding only under the situations expected by law. However, the basic feature of the situation of dispute is that the law does not explicitly count on it. Therefore, the statutory time limits are not applicable to situations of dispute. In addition, if the tour operator and the customer agree on a solution other than a refund, the mentioned time limits become irrelevant.

Under normal circumstances, a failure to comply with the time limits for refunding is a tort under Act No. 159/1999 Coll. on conditions of business and on the performance of certain activities in the area of tourism. But do you think that state authorities will deal with such a tort given the current situation? We do not, because it would not be fair. In addition, the Ministry of Regional Development, according to the answer to question no. 7 of their FAQ, expects the refunds to be processed after the tour operators return to regular operations. A different reaction of the state authorities would be counterproductive, mainly because of the legislative changes and programs adopted by the state, which primarily aim to prevent insolvency of entrepreneurs. The draft of the Ministry of Justice for the so-called debt moratorium will be discussed in one of our other Coronadvice. We also plan to cover the Antivirus program, as well as the questions that now burden tour operators in their capacity of employers.