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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48168
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I would like to know if I have a case to make a small claim.

Customer Question

I would like to know if I have a case to make a small claim. My daughter put her laptop into repair at a local repair shop. This was completed but the same problem occurred a week later. She took it back and they kept it in to wait for a part. Whilst in their care the shop was broken into, a number of items stolen including her laptop. There is a police report to this effect. I asked them to claim on their insurance but they claim to have none as it is too expensive, they offered a receipt for a new laptop so I could say it was stolen and claim from my insurance. I told them that was illegal. They have refused any other compensation and have been dismissive. Total cost of replacement is GBP900. I would like to know if i have a claim worth pursuing. many Thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified solicitor and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Were they at fault for the break in, for example leaving doors, windows open?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Not to my knowledge, it was a break in through the window being smashed and they rushed in and took computer equipment.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
The issue here is that you can only realistically claim against the shop if they were negligent in the process and this resulted in the loss of the laptop. I know that the laptop was in their care, but a break in is an unforeseen event and they will only have liability if they were in some way negligent in the process, such as making it easier for burglars to enter, for example by leaving windows open or doors unlocked. So you may find it difficult to place liability for the loss on them. What you could try is to put some more pressure on them by going through the steps one would take before issuing a claim. That could make it clear that you are treating this seriously and would not hesitate going to court if necessary. Whether you actually go that far is another matter but it may help in twisting their arm a bit. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of each step you need to follow from now on, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My issue is that they should be insured for such a loss, as my insurance will not pay as the lap top was not in my care. In my opinion that is negligent as they have made a conscious decision ,based on cost, not to insure themselves against an obvious threat. That decision then puts the consumer at risk and they do not make that clear when they take in goods fro repair.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
The insurance would not have been a legal requirement. Some types of insurance are, but the contents insurance for the shop would not be. So you cannot necessarily argue it was negligent because in these circumstances you would give the laptop at your own risk. It is still good to check whether there was any documentation signed by you saying that they have no liability for loss, etc.
In terms of taking this further, whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:
1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.
Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
Hope this helps.