Fantasy Tours customers demand compensation from government

Group of Fantasy Tours consumers demand compensation from government due to its failure to transpose and implement an EU directive safeguarding consumers’ rights

A group of incensed Fantasy Tours customers have this afternoon demanded compensation from the government, insisting that if compensation is not paid within two weeks, they would hold the government responsible for “negligently” failing to protect their rights.

In a judicial protest filed today, the Consumers’ Association argued that according to an EU directive on package travel, travel operators, including Golden Travel Club Ltd, the bankrupt company which formerly operated Fantasy Tours, should set up an insolvency fund to reimburse customers in the event it goes bust.

Last week, the Consumers Association advised the customers to write an official letter to the government demanding compensation on behalf of the Fantasy Tours customers. The Association also advised that if the government fails to meet its demand, it would file a judicial protest.

The Association further declared that otherwise, the customers would have to wait until criminal proceedings are finalised and then hope that there is enough money to reimburse the customers.

The plaintiffs argued that the EU directive in question was subsequently enshrined in the Malta Travel and Tourism Services Act, and that an insolvency fund was already in place within the financial sector.

“Nevertheless, the government failed to implement this provision and to ensure that an insolvency fund was in place.”

“Since the government failed to do its duty, it should bear the expenses and reimburse the losses suffered by the customers,” the plaintiffs argued.

Signed by Lawyers Keith Bonnici and Antoine Grima, the judicial protest stated that there was a causal link between the government’s failure to transpose the directive and the violation of the customers’ rights.

Moreover, the protest held that the European Court of Justice had already delivered a number of sentences against other EU member states for failing to implement the directive, and in addition argued that if the government fails to meet its demands, it would file a complaint before the European Commission.

In February 2014, Golden Travel Club Ltd was officially declared bankrupt after an auditor determined that it was beyond recovery.

Fantasy Tours director Karl Azzopardi was recently placed under a bill of indictment after being charged with misappropriating some €400,000 in 272 holidaymakers’ funds. The court heard that the company accepted €30,000 in holiday booking in the run-up to its default, in an attempt to save the company from bankruptcy.

Lawyers Keith Bonnici and Antoine Grima signed the judicial protest.