Austrian Supreme Court clarifies information duties in regard to entry requirements

Mr. F had booked a package tour to Morocco for himself, his wife and his eight year old son. At the time of booking he did not ask for entry requirements, only leafed through the pages of the tour organiser’s brochure without looking for the respective information and didn’t take the brochure along. The booking confirmation issued by the travel agent included the advice that information about entry requirements was avialable in the tour organizers brochure, at the website of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Aiffairs> or at the embassy of the respective country.At home he looked up the website of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Aiffairs and found the information that to enter into Morocco for tourist purposes and a period not exceeding three month, Austrian citizens didn’t need visa but were required a passport valid throughout their stay. In a guidebook he read that children either needed their own passport or had to be registered in a parent’s passport.At the airport he was told that his son would need his own passport and registration in the mother’s passport (without foto) was not sufficient. F. decided to book a ‘last minute’ package tour to Mallorca. To show goodwill the tour organiser refunded 50 % of the travel price without accepting responsibility.Back home F. assigned his claim to Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour which filed a law suit against the tour organiser.Both first instance and second instance (Commercial Court Vienna) dismissed the claim: it was common knowledge that travelling to another country usually requires a passport. From the website of the Ministry of Foreign Aiffairs F. had learned about the requirements but ignored same. He therefore was responsible for contributory neglicence of 50 %. As the tour organiser had refunded 50 % there was no further claim.Upon appeal of the Federal Chamber of Labour, Austrian Supreme Court held that tour organiser and travel agent had failed to fulfill their information duties: The advice given at the booking confimation was insufficient as the brochure was not handed out and the request to look at a certain website of the Ministry of Foreign Aiffairs or ask an embassy would impose a responsibility on the consumer which information duties of the tour organiser and the travel agent are aimed to avoid. There was no contributory negligence if F. had misunderstood the information given at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Aiffairs. Judgement was therefore given in favour of the claimant.Supreme Court Judgement 6 Ob 142/09i of Sep.18, 2009 available in German here>>.

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