Keep your hands off the shampoo in Austrian hotels

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Jul 28, 2017
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You’re checking out of a room in a sterile multinational hotel chain after a tiring business trip and into the sponge bag go a few half used pots of hotel shampoo and shower gel. Never know when they might come in handy, you mumble to yourself.

Who hasn’t done that? Well, now an Austrian hotel chain has wheeled in lawyers to say in no uncertain terms that even lifting those half empty bottles of toiletries constitutes theft.

“These are items the hotel makes available for guests to use during their stay,” says an Martina Flitsch, a lawyer at Vienna law firm Jarolim Flitsch Rechtsanwälte, which acts for the Falkensteiner Michaeler Tourism Group. “Guests are certainly not allowed to leave with them,” she continues, adding just in case someone at the back was dozing: “That’s theft. It is absolutely irrelevant whether what you steal is worth one or a million euros: theft is theft.”

But before you go away with the impression that Flitsch is some sort of lawyer tyrant, advising hotel clients to perform full cavity searches on all departing guests, she goes on to concede that “applying the principle is a totally different matter”, adding: “There is no case law relating to this.”

Tensions between Charlie Gard case counsel boil over

The Charlie Gard case was one of the most difficult, heart-rending and sensitive for any judge to have to decide, but the tensions also clearly got to the counsel involved.

As the hearings went on, the antipathy between Katie Gollop, QC, of Serjeants’ Inn, for Great Ormond Street Hospital (or GOSH, as it was known in court) and Grant Armstrong of 6 Pump Court, who acted for Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, was barely concealed – first in comments in their submissions but then in open jibes.

After one adjournment, Gollop said to Armstrong’s team: “This is why we wanted mediation.” To which the parents’ solicitor, Charles da Silva, replied: “Why can’t you give them peace?”

On Wednesday the tensions erupted again, when – with the judge barely out of court – Armstrong accused Gollop of disclosing the desired period of four days that the parents wanted to spend with Charlie before his artificial breathing apparatus was withdrawn. He had gone to great lengths, he said, to conceal the date. Gollop refused to reply or even look at him.

Yesterday, however, Armstrong was obliged to stand up in court to make a public apology over his accusation, having discovered that the four-day period was in his own position statement – and released to the press. Sadly Gollop was not there to hear his generous apology as she was already on another case, her place taken by Fiona Paterson, also of Serjeants’ Inn.

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