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Pest Controller Sees Off £700,000 Fire Damage Claim

Any tradesman should be aware of their potential liability in a claim by a home owner and should also have adequate insurance in place to cover claims against them.

In the case below, the tradesman was accused of being responsible for a fire in a listed mansion. It appears (although not reported) that an expert guided the court on their decision and showed that it was not the tradesman who was responsible for the fire.

This is a good example of how a good solicitor and expert can exonerate someone from what could potentially be a disastrous damages award against a defendant.

Tradesmen who work in people’s homes are often unaware of the potential liabilities to which they are exposed. In one case that proved the point, a pest controller was sued for almost £700,000 following a fire at a listed mansion but managed to defeat the claim with the help of a highly experienced legal team.

The pest controller, a sole trader, had been employed by the mansion’s owner to eradicate an infestation of mice. The owner claimed that he had been negligent in placing bait blocks too close to hot halogen down-lighters in a bedroom ceiling, thus causing a blaze that gutted a substantial part of the building.

In exonerating the tradesman, however, the High Court found that the bait blocks were not flammable and had been reasonably placed two to three inches from the down-lighters. The probable cause of the fire was that the latter had been fitted with the wrong type of bulb. In the circumstances, the owner’s claim was dismissed and he was ordered to pay the six-figure legal costs of the case.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2