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    Persistence pays off in commercial disputes


    A recent commercial dispute I was involved with demonstrates the value of being prepared to pursue a claim and not to be put off by repeated denials and delaying tactics from the other side, especially when it comes to dealing with insurers.

    The case involved water damage to a commercial property in Lancashire, which was caused by preparatory work on a neighbouring building site.

    Our client purchased a former railway tunnel which he was intended to use for storage, which began taking water when a housing developer removed the topsoil from nearby land to begin work on new housing.

    The leaking water caused a major nuisance to my client’s business and caused significant damage to the property. We therefore submitted a claim to the developer for £75,000 to compensate the client for both the damage caused and the cost of remedial works to fix the problem.

    The housing developer’s insurer initially refused to accept liability, seeking to pass the blame onto a subcontractor whose insurers also refused to take the blame. This then lead to a period of prolonged correspondence in which insurers placed numerous hurdles in the way of our client, essentially as a means of avoiding responsibility for the claim.

    At the time it would have been easy for the client simply to give up and walk away, or to become embroiled in expensive litigation. However, through perseverance and no little detailed legal analysis and argument, we were able to persuade insurers on the strength of the evidence that the case was overwhelming. We managed to reach a settlement of £50,000 in damages without the need to pursue the case through the courts, which was a huge relief to the client, saving him a significant sum in legal costs.

    As a general rule, insurers will often look for ways to avoid accepting liability in commercial disputes and paying out damages in the early stages, which can mean that claims are either abandoned or not pursued because of the costs of litigation. The lesson here is that if you believe you have a good claim, seek professional legal advice and be prepared to persevere.

    For more information on this matter, or any other litigation and dispute resolution matters, please contact Colin Fenny on 01772 258321.

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