A group of British lawyers have been accused of encouraging tourists to make false injury or food poisoning claims against Costa Blanca hotels in the hope of racking up thousands in legal fees.
The Benidorm Hotel Association (HOSBEC) is so concerned it has urged the Spanish Ambassador to the UK to lodge a formal complaint with the British government.
After seeing the number of legal claims skyrocket this summer, HOSBEC has vowed to fight the ‘legal cowboys’ it accuses of hooking their targets with the promise of free money and then lining their pockets with extortionate legal fees that are damaging the industry.
Whereas last year hotels were clocking up a few dozen complaints at most, in 2016 some establishments have been named in more than 200 separate legal claims.
HOSBEC attributes the sweeping increase to the rising number of what it says are fraudsters taking advantage of various legal loopholes.
So-called lawyers are accused of roaming the streets and convincing easily manipulated or willingly culpable tourists that they can win €500 compensation if they submit a claim for food poisoning or injury. They then demand amounts in excess of €5,000 in some cases for their legal fees.
The claims process is dealt with by tour operators working outside the reach of Spanish law and the fees paid out are immediately deducted from their payments to the hotels in Spain, leaving the industry “totally defenceless,” according to the president of the association Toni Mayor.
Describing the situation as “completely untenable for the sector” HOSBEC is siding with its counterpart in the Balearic Islands which has made similar allegations and insisted that the British government intervene.