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    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 6:06 PM
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    One Five Four
    Radiator leaked and flooded house - liability?
    • #1
    • 4th Oct 17, 6:06 PM
    Radiator leaked and flooded house - liability? 4th Oct 17 at 6:06 PM
    Hello Folks,

    A friend of mine had a (brand new) upstairs radiator supplied and fitted by a local plumber about three years ago. He guaranteed everything (parts and labour) for a year, and the radiator had a 10 year manufacturer's guarantee.

    After 16 months, while my mate was away for a couple of days, the radiator developed a hole about 6mm diameter which flooded the house, running overnight until a neighbour who was keeping an eye on the place for him called in and found the disaster in progress. It did an awful lot of damage and they were out of the house for weeks afterwards.

    It seems the radiator had a manufacturing fault. The plumber had added some stuff to the system ('Sentinel'?) when he fitted it that apparently prevents rusting.

    My mate doesn't blame the plumber, but after 18 months of wrangling, the plumber has been sent a demand "under the Consumer Rights Act" by a "recoveries agency" for over £14,000.

    Please can anyone advise if the plumber is actually liable for this, or should it be whoever he bought the radiator from, or the maker of it?

    We assume it's not the plumber, of whom my mate speaks very highly (and still uses incidentally) but any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks very much.
Page 1
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 4th Oct 17, 6:13 PM
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    lincroft1710
    • #2
    • 4th Oct 17, 6:13 PM
    • #2
    • 4th Oct 17, 6:13 PM
    If the radiator was fitted 3 years ago, then CRA wouldn't apply as it was not on the statute books, it was still the Sale of Goods Act
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 6:59 PM
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    One Five Four
    • #3
    • 4th Oct 17, 6:59 PM
    • #3
    • 4th Oct 17, 6:59 PM
    Thanks, it was fitted in early November 2014 so that's very interesting.
    • Diamandis
    • By Diamandis 4th Oct 17, 7:06 PM
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    Diamandis
    • #4
    • 4th Oct 17, 7:06 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Oct 17, 7:06 PM
    Did his insurance not cover this?
    • unholyangel
    • By unholyangel 4th Oct 17, 7:29 PM
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    unholyangel
    • #5
    • 4th Oct 17, 7:29 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Oct 17, 7:29 PM
    Firstly, as its more than 6 months from purchase the onus would be on your friend to prove that the goods didn't conform to contract (or that it was not installed with reasonable skill & care).

    Once they had done that, then the party in breach would be liable for reasonable losses incurred due to that breach but as with all damages, they would be assessed on the basis of what was required to put them into the same position had the breach not happened and would be subject to the rules of mitigation - that you should take reasonable steps to minimise your losses where necessary and not take unreasonable steps to increase your losses. A loss must also be foreseeable in order for it to be recoverable whether that is losses arising from the natural course of things or losses arising from special circumstances the trader was aware of at the time of entering the contract.

    One thing to note though is the value being claimed. Is this the value for like for like replacements or brand new replacements? I ask for a few reasons but mainly due to the financial limit on small claims and that costs are only fixed in small claims (meaning you could potentially be liable for legal costs).
    Money doesn't solve poverty.....it creates it.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 8:13 PM
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    One Five Four
    • #6
    • 4th Oct 17, 8:13 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Oct 17, 8:13 PM
    Thanks for this. My mate has no problem with the plumber's workmanship. He told me the chap has worked for him on other jobs since this incident and he's been completely happy with him. He's confident there's no way he'd have fitted a radiator that he knew was likely to leak like this one did.

    The plumber has received a breakdown of the costs (accommodation, damage to the house and contents, etc) which amount to just over £14000.

    I don't think the loss could have been foreseeable as with a ten year guarantee, you wouldn't expect the radiator to fail so catastrophically in 16 months.

    Chatting with my mate, he thinks this 'recoveries agency' are on a fishing expedition trying to frighten the plumber into paying for something that isn't his fault.

    Would fact they've muddled up the appropriate legislation seem to back this up?
    • unholyangel
    • By unholyangel 4th Oct 17, 9:09 PM
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    unholyangel
    • #7
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:09 PM
    • #7
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:09 PM
    Thanks for this. My mate has no problem with the plumber's workmanship. He told me the chap has worked for him on other jobs since this incident and he's been completely happy with him. He's confident there's no way he'd have fitted a radiator that he knew was likely to leak like this one did.

    The plumber has received a breakdown of the costs (accommodation, damage to the house and contents, etc) which amount to just over £14000.

    I don't think the loss could have been foreseeable as with a ten year guarantee, you wouldn't expect the radiator to fail so catastrophically in 16 months.

    Chatting with my mate, he thinks this 'recoveries agency' are on a fishing expedition trying to frighten the plumber into paying for something that isn't his fault.

    Would fact they've muddled up the appropriate legislation seem to back this up?
    Originally posted by One Five Four
    Who is this recovery agent you keep mentioning and who's instruction are they acting on if not your friends?

    Where a product causes property damage or injury you can chase anyone in the supply chain - manufacturer, importer, retailer etc. But chase them on that basis and you are limited to product liability rules. Chase the party you had a contract with and you can also rely on your consumer rights & contractual rights rather than just product liability. He might feel that the plumber technically isn't at fault but if he supplied the goods then he certainly has liability for them.

    The wrong legislation being quoted isn't a huge deal per say. CRA basically consolidated several pieces of legislation into one and many of the rights/obligations are very similar if not the exact same. But if the plumber supplied the goods and the contract was before 1st Oct 2015 then the relevant legislation would be the Supply of Goods & Services Act rather than the Consumer Rights Act or Sale of Goods Act.
    Money doesn't solve poverty.....it creates it.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 9:29 PM
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    One Five Four
    • #8
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:29 PM
    • #8
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:29 PM
    Sorry if this all seems a bit vague. My mate is a bit of a dinosaur who doesn't use a computer, hence I'm posting stuff for him (after lengthy phone calls). I keep trying to get him on-line...!

    I assume the recovery agent is a firm appointed by his home insurers to pursue the claim.

    Can I ask, for how long after the installation of the radiator does the plumber have liability? Surely it can't be indefinite.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 9:38 PM
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    One Five Four
    • #9
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:38 PM
    • #9
    • 4th Oct 17, 9:38 PM
    Sorry, re his insurance. I''ll have to get back to you on that (I assume he has some).
    • boo_star
    • By boo_star 4th Oct 17, 9:55 PM
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    boo_star
    Sorry, re his insurance. I''ll have to get back to you on that (I assume he has some).
    Originally posted by One Five Four
    If itís his insurance company doing it then all the plumber needs to do is direct them to his insurance company.
    • KeithP
    • By KeithP 4th Oct 17, 10:16 PM
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    KeithP
    A 6mm hole suddenly appeared?

    I don't believe that.

    The radiator was leaking long before the holiday and it is rather surprising that the householder didn't notice it many weeks earlier. He should've taken steps then to mitigate any loss.
    Last edited by KeithP; 04-10-2017 at 10:19 PM.
    .
    • boo_star
    • By boo_star 4th Oct 17, 10:22 PM
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    boo_star
    A 6mm hole suddenly appeared?

    I don't believe that.

    The radiator was leaking long before the holiday and it is rather surprising that the householder didn't notice it many weeks earlier. He should've taken steps then to mitigate any loss.
    Originally posted by KeithP
    Thatís something the insurance companies will need to sort out.

    I do find it odd for a hole of that size to suddenly appear but Iím neither a metallurgist or a plumber.
    • unholyangel
    • By unholyangel 4th Oct 17, 10:31 PM
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    unholyangel
    Sorry if this all seems a bit vague. My mate is a bit of a dinosaur who doesn't use a computer, hence I'm posting stuff for him (after lengthy phone calls). I keep trying to get him on-line...!

    I assume the recovery agent is a firm appointed by his home insurers to pursue the claim.

    Can I ask, for how long after the installation of the radiator does the plumber have liability? Surely it can't be indefinite.
    Originally posted by One Five Four
    I wondered if that was the case (he'd possibly claimed off his insurance) as it would be a bit strange for your friend to seek a recovery agent and even if he did, it would be even stranger still for him to instruct them to chase the plumber when he feels the plumber has done no wrong.

    If he has claimed off his insurance then basically his role in it is over (save for providing the insurance company with help in recovering the costs - which will likely be a term of his insurance).

    No he's not liable indefinitely. Its a bit of a complex area (especially where potential building works are concerned which come with a latent defect extension) and strictly speaking nothing in law sets a period for how long they would be liable for the goods to last. What it does set is the period in which you can bring a legal claim. In the case of action found on simple contract that period is 6 years in england & wales and 5 years from discovery in scotland. You can still file a claim after this period but the defendant would have a defence of "statute barred".

    I have to say though, you both seem very concerned about the plumbers liability (rather than damage caused etc) which leads the cynic in me to wonder if you're the plumber in question
    Money doesn't solve poverty.....it creates it.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 10:33 PM
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    One Five Four
    From what he told me, the radiator was partially hidden behind a bedside cabinet and the hole appeared there, so he didn't notice it earlier.

    Again, I'm sorry to be so vague. After this, he'd better get a computer.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 4th Oct 17, 10:35 PM
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    One Five Four
    No, I'm not the plumber, but my mate has known and used him for years and feels bad that this is happening to him. He just asked me if I could help.
    • boo_star
    • By boo_star 4th Oct 17, 10:38 PM
    • 1,328 Posts
    • 677 Thanks
    boo_star
    From what he told me, the radiator was partially hidden behind a bedside cabinet and the hole appeared there, so he didn't notice it earlier.

    Again, I'm sorry to be so vague. After this, he'd better get a computer.
    Originally posted by One Five Four
    Wouldnít the carpet be sodden? Or with a hard floor, a puddle start to appear?

    None of that really matters though. What matters is if your friend has gone to his insurance company or not.

    If he has then his role is essentially over.
    • One Five Four
    • By One Five Four 5th Oct 17, 7:26 AM
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    One Five Four
    Thanks for all the replies so far. Just to clarify, my mate's house insurance have paid out to repair the damage and the plumber in now being chased by them, via a 'recovery agency', to get their money back.

    The plumber came to see my mate yesterday and told him what was happening. Until then, my mate assumed it had all been settled long ago.

    I expect the plumber has some kind of insurance, but I'll need to ask my mate to check on that.
    • neilmcl
    • By neilmcl 5th Oct 17, 9:05 AM
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    neilmcl
    You seemed to be more concerned about the plumber than you're actual mate getting his house sorted. Whether the plumber has insurance or not is nobody's concern but his, if he has it good for him, if not your mate's insurer will decided whether to take legal action or not to recover the loss. Either way your mate is sorted now.
    • DoaM
    • By DoaM 5th Oct 17, 9:32 AM
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    DoaM
    You seemed to be more concerned about the plumber than you're actual mate getting his house sorted.
    Originally posted by neilmcl
    Eh? Where are you getting that from? OP's mate has already had the house sorted ... where do you think the £14k comes from? (Whether £14k is a fair cost or artificially inflated is a separate matter).

    This will be the insurance company seeking to recover their losses from the plumber. And as said above, OP's mate's position in this is to follow what the T&Cs of the insurance contract said - nothing more, nothing less. (The T&Cs probably said that the insured must assist the insurer in the recovery of claims costs where practicable ... OP's mate being in conversation with the plumber about this may not be the best course of action to take).
    Diary of a madman
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    • GDB2222
    • By GDB2222 5th Oct 17, 10:45 AM
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    GDB2222
    Whilst accepting that the plumber acted in good faith, he supplied a faulty radiator. So, he's liable for the foreseeable consequences. However, he has a claim against his suppliers, and they against theirs, and so on back to the manufacturer.

    The plumber should have notified his insurers when this first came to his attention. They may not cover him now.
    No reliance should be placed on the above! Absolutely none, do you hear?
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