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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49816
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I employed a contractor I sourced through Checkatrade, who

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I employed a contractor I sourced through Checkatrade, who was a member of the confederation of building contractors and who checkatrade stated had liability insurance (they stated his insurance was checked on 25th July 16). I never employ a contractor without knowing they have liability cover. He worked on my roof on the 31st July. His gas cylinder caught fire and he tried to get it off the roof and dropped it and it fell in my neighbours garden. It caused considerable damage to their property and approx £6k+ To mine. He accepted full liability but it was discovered, despite Checkatrades promises he had not paid a premium for using "Heat on a roof." Now my neighbours insurance company has sent a solicitors letter stating they a pursuing a claim against me for £250k for employing a contractor on my land who was negligent. I have liability insurance but I am beside myself with anxiety incase they refuse to cover this. I have no legal cover! I suffer Can you advise me please.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Have you contacted Checkatrade about this?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
they said it was my responsibility to check his insurance although they vouched for it. I am not an expert in roofing. The contractor claimed ignorance of his need for an extra premium!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is their merit in their claim against me? The contractor admits full liability.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you!

No problem at all. I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Mr Jones
FYI: Attached is a copy on 4 jpeg files of the solicitors letter of claim, Mr Clear v (My self) Mr Casey which has been initiated by Esure Insurance, Mr Clears insurer. I have over a million pounds liability insurance but no legal cover. My insurers have said they will contact me late next week.

Many thanks for your patience. The starting point is that the tradesman would be responsible for this because it was their negligence which caused the damage. They should cover themselves with liability insurance but if no such insurance exists to cover the damage, they can be held personally responsible for this.

In terms of Checkatrade they will have limited liability here – they may have checked that the tradesman has insurance, which would have been true, but the issue here is not that they did not have insurance but that they had no specific cover for the type of work which was carried out. So their check may have been a basic one to see that some form of liability cover is in place, but without having to check the exact specifics of what that covers. So it is unlikely that they can really be held responsible here.

At this stage the main liability lies with the tradesman and if the neighbours can show that your actions were negligent then they could potentially pursue you too, at least for part of the costs. What is negligent is something only a court can decide but it would be considering things like whether someone in your position would have been reasonably expected to check the details of the level of cover the tradesman had, although I would argue that it is the tradesman’s responsibility to ensure they had adequate cover based on what work they were doing so the main liability will lie with them.

Finally I am not sure why they are pursuing you for such a large figure – was that much damage actually caused? They cannot penalise you for what happened, they can only pursue the guilty party for the actual damage and losses incurred so they will have to justify that £250k of damages have been caused to be able to go for that amount.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. As far as the insurance company pursuing me, do you think in your professional opinion if I am forced to go to court. Do you think a court would find me negligent? The solicitors letter pointed to me being responsible for the contractors negligence. I feel I acted reasonably by sourcing him through a vetting company with references, membership of a professional confederation and liability cover. I acted reasonably. So is it likely I could be expected to pay for damage he caused?

Whilst no one can predict the outcome of a court claim, when assessing your culpability the court would look at what a reasonable person in your position would have done and decide if your actions fell below that standard. Someone who is not in the building profession and is just a consumer looking at professional tradesmen to undertake work would likely just have to undertake basic checks as to whether they are covered, rather than carry out a forensic search into what exactly their insurance covers them for. Often you would only require confirmation from the tradesman that they are insured for the work in question and that is sufficient to make you less liable and not be negligent. So I am not confident they would find you negligent but that is my own opinion, as mentioned I cannot predict what a court may decide.

If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you

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