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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I belong to a members' club. The Club premises are

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I belong to a members' club. The Club premises are surrounded by a secure fence with a gate secured by padlock, members are free to enter whenever they wish with their own keys. There are occasional pre-arranged visits by tradesmen, Council officials and by guests who pay a fee to bring a caravan or tent on site. Members may be day, or resident with their own caravan or chalet permanently located on site. There is mains water but no mains gas nor electricity.
The club owns three shower/toilet blocks, a clubhouse with meeting room and kitchen, and a complex of three small chalets each with cooking and sleeping facilities (for members without their own on-site accommodation). Every one of the aforementioned buildings has gas appliances for cooking and/or water heating. The gas is supplied from cylinders each in a lean-to enclosure attached to the relevant building.
The gas supply and equipment is generally installed and supervised by a conscientious member who has NO gas installation certificate nor (to my knowledge) any formal training in the installation and maintenance of gas equipment. Occasionally a qualified gas engineer comes on site to perform a task, but this is not always the case, and work is often left un-inspected while being used by members.
Q 1. Should the Club's insurance agent be informed that there is un-inspected gas equipment on site and would failure to do so invalidate the insurance policy?
Q 2. Would an accident on site involving unauthorised fitting and maintenance of gas equipment leave members liable for the consequences?
Q 3. Would the person who performed the installation or maintenance be personally (and criminally) responsible for the damage occurring or would the members in general be liable?
Q 4. Has any criminal offence been committed by those who knowingly advocated the policy or by the one who performed the work?
Any other useful comment would be appreciated.
Peter J. Hughes

Apart from the obvious safety issue here, what are you looking to happen? Just to have the installation expected by a competent and authorised person? Are they refusing to do that? Is there more to this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I thought there was a legal issue in that gas installations and equipment MUST be installed and maintained by a fully authorised person, whether or not it is piped or cylinder gas. I assumed that insurance companies demanded that degree of security before they would pay out (on any possible future claim) and that anyone not in possession of a valid gas installer's certificate was committing an offence if they tinkered with gas equipment. I am also worried that in a 'club' situation all members would be responsible financially and criminally if an accident occurred with a gas installation that had been installed by a non-registered individual. These 'facts', if so they be, seem self evident when one considers piped gas, but what about cylinder gas in an enclosed site?
Can anyone tinker with gas equipment if it is not connected to the main supply network? That is the nub of my question.
Peter J. Hughes

From the GasSafe website

When buying a new or replacement gas appliance you should check that it is suitable for its intended location (e.g. in a caravan) and the type of gas that will be used (i.e. LPG or natural gas). It must be installed by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.

And from theGas Safety (installation & use) regulations 1998

“gas” means any substance which is or (if it were in a gaseous state) would be gas within the meaning of the Gas Act 1986(1) except that it does not include gas consisting wholly or mainly of hydrogen when used in non-domestic premises;

So you can see that there is no exemption for LPG. However, even if there was, whoever did the installation would be liable in negligence if anyone was injured as a result of a faulty installation and further, this is probably the part that is worrying you, the organisation could potentially be liable along with whoever did the work, on the basis that they instructed an incompetent and unregulated person to do it.

Potentially all the members are on the hook although the reality is that the unincorporated organisation (if that’s what it is) would be sued as an entityalthough all the members would have to pick up the tab.

You are correct to raise the issue and I think it’s irresponsible of whoever has done the work to do so aside the fact that they are committing an offence.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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We can still exchange emails. Best wishes.


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