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France to impose new tax on luxury hotel rooms

On 7 September 2011, the French National Assembly has adopted a finance bill which includes a new 2% tax on hotel stays where rates exceed EUR 200 per night. The bill is subject to ratification by the French Senate. Once ratified the new tax shall be due as from 1 November 2011.

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Austrian Supreme Court: hotel liable for theft from safe in hotel room

The plaintiffs (a German couple) sued a Vienna 4 star hotel company for compensation of more than EUR 160.000 of valuables stolen from the safe in their hotel room. When they had asked at the reception where to keep their valuables, the receptionist had told them to use the safe in their room. This safe had to be locked and unlocked by a code of four numbers chosen by the plaintiffs. However, the safe could also be opened by using a 'mastercode'.

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UK: TripAdvisor under ASA scrutiny

Following a huge number of complaints by hotels that the travel website did not check its reviews and many of them were  misleading, fake or defamatory, TripAdvisor is to be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

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Austria: hotel operator not liable for injury of a guest who tried to repair a jamming glass door

The plaintiff who was a former share holder of a hotel company (the defendant) and also the former companion of the defendant's director stayed in the defendant's hotel as a guest, when the director asked him to do her the favour to look for a jamming glass door in the indoor pool area because she couldn't reach any craftsman. When he tried to remove the defective glass door, he got severely injured on his right hand. He sued the hotel company for compensation for pain and suffering. The court of first instance granted the claim.

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Germany: the operator of a hotel review website has no obligation to verify user postings before publishing

In a recent decision the German Kammergericht Berlin held that the operator of a hotel review website has no obligation to verify user postings before publishing. A posting on a Swiss website had suggested that a certain hotel had a bed bug problem. Upon complaint of the hotelier, the operator of the website permanently deleted the posting. Nevertheless the hotelier moved for an interim injunction demanding the website operator to cease and desist from future publication of such allegations.

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UK: human rights group supports lesbian couple who were refused hotel accomodation

According to a press release by British human rights group "Liberty", a lesbian couple had booked accommodation at a Brighton hotel by telephone but when they arrived they were told by the manager that ‘no rooms were available’ and that the hotel only accepted ‘couples and families’. When they explained that they were in fact a couple, and had purposely booked a double room the manager alledgedly replied: “No two boys, no two girls. We don’t have any rooms”.

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USA: Washington D.C. to sue OTAs for unpaid taxes

Officials announced that Washington D.C. will sue popular online hotel-booking firms in order to recoup millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. The complaint is similar to other lawsuits across the nation, which accuse leading online travel companies of basing their tax receipts on wholesale prices paid by the online booking agency — not the retail rate that guests actually pay.

Source: The Wahsington Times; find article here>>.

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USA: Oklahoma's lawsuit against online travel companies dismissed

Oklahoma County District Court Judge Daniel Owens has ruled against Oklahoma's legal effort to collect back sales taxes from online travel reservation companies which offer discount hotel rooms.

Source: NewsOK; find article here>>.

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USA: new Regulations on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations to come into force

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) has issued new regulations on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities effective March 15, 2011. The new regulations will substantially limit the types of animals that will qualify as "service animals" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Germany: no liability for copyright infringements by hotel guests through WLAN conncetion

A hotel owner who provides his guests with internet access through a customarily secure and encrypted WLAN connection has no liabilty if the guests or third persons use the internet connection for copyright infringements, a German court recently decided: there is no obligation to examination on behalf of the hotel owner. (LG Frankfurt/Main 18.08.2010, 2-6 S 19/09).