Was your home or business one of the 300,000 across Lancashire that was affected by the recent water crisis?
While United Utilities has advised its customers in the county that its first priority is getting the water supply back to normal following traces of the poisonous parasite cryptosporidium being found at Franklaw water treatment works in Preston, the water company has also confirmed that they “will be compensating all homes and businesses who have been affected by the boil water notice”.
However, no details have yet been revealed about how affected businesses will go about applying for compensation, or how those claims will be assessed.
So what steps can businesses take to ensure they receive adequate compensation?
Unlike households, it is completely unfeasible for many businesses, particularly those in the food and hospitality sector, to rely on boiling water before consumption, and many will have incurred significant costs as a result of having to buy in bottled water for food preparation, cooking, cleaning and serving to customers.
Some hospitality businesses may even have had to purchase more bottled carbonated soft drinks because they have been unable to use drinks dispensers attached to a mains water supply. One fast food chain, for example, has had to give unlimited bottles of fizzy drink to customers in its affected outlets as part of its unlimited soft drinks meal deal.
Some food businesses may suffer a loss of trade more generally if people are put off eating out because of fears they may consume contaminated water. And those that are boiling more water will undoubtedly have bigger electricity bills as a result.
The advice to businesses wanting to improve their chances of being adequately compensated is to keep a detailed record of how they have been affected by the boil water notice. This should include evidence of any additional costs they have incurred as a result of not being able to use the mains water supply. Practically speaking, this means keeping a log of all additional usage and costs, retaining copies of receipts, detailed orders and delivery records, and all other relevant information.
United Utilities has already said it will require businesses to have evidence of these losses in order for it to assess a claim for compensation.
How to make a claim
For now, United Utilities have stated that they are concentrating on getting the supply back to normal, and only then will it begin to consider the issue of compensation in detail.
It has been revealed, however, that compensation for affected businesses will be looked at on a “case-by-case basis”, and that it “will be contacting you proactively in the coming weeks”.
Inevitably, there will be cases where businesses are unhappy with the level of compensation they are offered because it does not adequately reflect the actual losses the business has suffered, and this is where having detailed records will be invaluable, especially if the business chooses to seek legal advice on the issue.
How badly did the water crisis affect your business?
If you need any help or advice concerning your compensation from United Utilities following the Lancashire boil water notice, and your legal position in the matter, please contact Katie Kozlowska at Harrison Drury on 01772 258321. Katie is one of Harrison Drury’s renewable energy solictors based in Preston.