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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 62600
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I was recently working in America (i am a UK citizen and my

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Hi there
JA: Hi. How can I help?
Customer: I was recently working in America (i am a UK citizen and my employer is based in the UK), and I had a bag stolen from a production vehicle I had about 12k worth of personal belongings stolen
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No i am a freelancer So the company is refusing liability The vehicle was moved from a place with security, to an unsecure location, without my knowlege And my items were stolen I was wondering if there is any legal precedent to take my employer to small claims (or other court) They are refusing to claim on their insurance or offer compensation
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Freelancer IT was a short job A film shoot And no there is no union
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I think that explains it for the time being

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Hi Ben

Why was your bag in the production vehicle? Was a safe place to store your belongings provided?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
YEs my bag was in the production vehicle, it was hired by the production and was being used to transport gear and crew
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
IT was the only safe place provided as there was a security guard stationed next to it
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
THen it was moved without telling us, and subsequently broken into at the new location

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. To be able to claim against them you need to show they have legal liability first. Just because items were stolen from their vehicle that does not make the negligent. So you need to be able to show that they had done something which is clearly negligent and fell below the standard of anyone else in their position. For example, if they had promised you that the vehicle will always be stored in a secure location but then failed to do so, that could be negligence, especially as you had an expectation from them to do that. So the key is to prove that they were negligent, not that they just had the items in their vehicle because that does not mean it was necessarily their fault that it was broken into.

 

If you did want to take it further, then once a party wishes to pursue another for financial compensation arising out of a dispute between them, they can do so by making a claim in the civil courts. As legal action should ideally be used as a last resort, there are certain steps that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve lawyers or the courts. These can be summarised below and it is recommended the following procedure is followed to try and progress this matter further:

 

1. Reminder letter – if no informal reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the other party to voluntarily settle this matter.

 

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but have been ignored, the other party must be sent a formal ‘letter before action’ asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time, usually 7 to 14 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 pursue them for the compensation in question. 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 a copy will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. Once they are aware that legal proceedings have commenced it may also force them to reconsider their position and perhaps prompt them to contact you to try and resolve this.

 

As a final tip, it is always advisable to keep copies of any correspondence sent and received as the courts would like to refer to it if it ever gets that far.

 

Does this answer your query?

Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Hi Ben, thankyou very much for your response, that is indeed very helpful. I do have a few follow up questions.

The employer is currently claiming that they cannot realistically by expected to claim liability because the sequence of events as told by their producer (the one who moved the vehicle) is different to ours. We have suggested many times that they consult other members of the crew who were there to garner the truth. Anyone attempting to uncover the truth would not be hesitant to do this, and of course, they have ignored my requests thus far. The issue of liability and negligence comes down to these facts, but they are disputing these facts. I have not yet told them that I have other witnesses who are willing to back up our case. WOuld it be wise to let them know now, or save these for court?

In your professional opinion, would be have a case for negligence in the scenario whereby the vehicle was parked deliberately just yards away from a security guard who had been hired specifically because we were filming in a high crime-rate area. We were told specifically, and it was also a reasonable expectation (as is the custom on such jobs) that this van would remain secure, in view of the location, and near the security guard. Many members of the crew advised the producer not to move the car, and they will attest to this. The van also had many other peoples personal bags that were not stolen, and so every person who was using that van had the reasonable expectation that this was secure and were not informed that it would be moved at any time. The van was then moved to a different location with no security, with all the bags on display, and was then broken into a short time after this.

Is there a maximum amount you can claim via a civil court? Between myself and the other victim we lost approx $15,000 worth of items.

If you believe that telling them the facts will change their approach, you could indeed do that now. The facts are still the facts and whether you gave them to the employer now or at court, they will still come out.

 

In terms of the negligence, I can see how there is an argument that they were at fault, although it would depend on the reasons for the move, if other precautionary measures were taken and so on. It is difficult to say with a degree of certainty I’m afraid and this is not what our site would be for, we are here really to advise you of the law and your options rather than make an opinion on the strengths of a case.

 

Finally, you can easily claim the amount you have lost, the only thing is the Small Claims Court limit is £10k, but it will just go to the level above that so you would still be able to claim if your claim is for more.