Laura Cameron, who was in court yesterday. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

On Monday, an amendment to British civil law procedure came into force. It establishes that legal firms bringing cases to court for holiday compensation resulting from sickness will no longer be able to claim costs that have typically been more than three times the amount of compensation claimed.

Until this amendment was made, there was no limit to costs. It was a loophole that diverged from normal procedure for claims, such as personal injury sustained in the UK, because they were claims abroad. This loophole has been fundamental in driving up the number of false claims for compensation, which over the past three years are said to have cost Balearic hoteliers some 80 million euros.

Abta's chief executive Mark Tanzer is pleased that the amendment has been made. "As of now, unscrupulous law firms will no longer benefit from the very high costs related to claims for holiday sickness, which have led to a disproportionate increase in false claims." Tanzer believes that there will now be a reduction in the number of these false claims.

Various bodies representing the hoteliers think that the regulatory change will have a dissuasive effect on "mafias" that have been behind the false claims for several years. Over the past three years, the number of claims has shot up by 500%. It is now expected that there will be a decrease of 80%.

As well as the UK amendment, tour operators and the Majorca Hoteliers Federation have had some notable success in pressing charges for false claims. These have resulted in fines and prison sentences.

The MonlexHispajuris law firm in Majorca, which has been to the fore in keeping abreast of UK legal developments, explains that costs which can be demanded will now be below the compensation settlement, regardless of how much time a UK law firm spends on the cases. It believes that UK firms will now be more careful in selecting genuine claims for compensation.

Meanwhile, Laura Cameron, the British businesswoman accused of having headed an operation in Majorca that was dedicated to eliciting false compensation claims from British holidaymakers, appeared in court yesterday.

She told the court of instruction in Palma that she and her business had only been engaged in collecting the personal data of tourists which was then sold to marketing companies which in turn sold the data to consumer protection organisations. She rejected the accusation that people employed by her had encouraged holidaymakers to invent false claims.