When your green oasis suddenly resembles a nuclear wasteland

The sun is out and the local ice-cream seller is selling so many 99s, he’s preparing for early retirement to Monte Carlo. Your children have finally got the idea that eating salad and fruit won’t turn them into hamsters, sparing you from slaving in a hot kitchen. You’ve opened your second bottle of sun-protection of the summer. What can possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, sunshine and the holidays don’t always go smoothly. You don’t want to worry when you should be enjoying the summer, so QualitySolicitors have prepared a series of humorous but helpful scenarios, just in case.

John Baden-Daintree, Head of Legal Services for QualitySolicitors said:

At this time of year, the last thing most of us want to be worrying about is the law – but summer and holidays do throw up some interesting legal conundrums. We’ve put together a series of light-hearted scenarios illustrating potential summer legal problems.  It’s part of our effort to demystify law. We hope our stories will cause a smile or two as well as make the law a little clearer.

Not-so-green grass

Everyone wants a summer lawn to rival something from Wimbledon. However, what happens if a lawn treatment company turns your lush green turf into brown, parched scrub?

You know the feeling; summer is finally here, the sun is shining, the neighbours barbecue is filling your garden with acrid smoke, and you just want to sit in your garden and chill out. Better still, why not give your friends a ring and have them pop over for that spur-of-the-moment last-minute barbecue party? Fantastic. But then you remember why not – the proverbial fly in your sun screen. Your garden, your pride and joy and your very own version of the Chelsea Flower Show, is now a sheer embarrassment due to the shady character who came around to ‘treat’ your lawn.

The newspapers are full of adverts for excellent lawn treatment companies, but despite what your wife said, you decided to go with the guy who put a note through your door offering huge discounts. You rang the mobile number on the flier and waited while his dented and rusty white van rounded the corner. He demanded cash payment up front, with a wink and a smile, but you still suspected nothing.

He pulled out his backpack lawn sprayer – the latest technology, apparently- and you were highly impressed when he sprayed your entire lawn in a matter of seconds. Before you knew it, he and his nifty backpack had vanished.

Then, on closer inspection, you noticed that he had been slightly careless with his sprayer – splattering your flowers with lawn treatment. Except this ‘lawn treatment’ was burning holes in your patio and your prize dahlias were beginning to wilt and droop, just like your spirits. And the lawn itself… looks like it’s fallen victim to a bonfire. You realise, to your horror, that the ‘treatment’ was more like extra strength weed killer.

So, what can you do?

Like all contractors who carry out work for you, the lawn treatment cowboy is bound by the Supply of Goods and Services Act. The service given must be provided with reasonable skill and care. In essence, you have rights to ensure that they put the bad service right. Either the offending persons must do it, or they must pay someone else to do it.

In most cases, you should allow the trader the opportunity to put things right – here I very much doubt you will ever see him again and if you only have a mobile it may be difficult to get an address, but you should try! Your right to claim damages if the dispute goes to court could be affected if you have not allowed the trader the opportunity to put things right – here I very much doubt you will ever see him again, and if you only have a mobile number it may be difficult to get an address. However, you should try! Your right to claim damages if the dispute goes to court could be affected if you have not allowed the trader the opportunity to put things right.

If you don’t have luck with finding an address, and he is mysteriously ‘unavailable’ to take your calls, then send him a text and keep it on your phone. Tell the trader what the problems are and what you want the trader to do and when. If you can confirm this in writing with a deadline for him to sort it out, that is ideal. You need to tell him that after his deadline, you will obtain a quote from another trader and have them carry out the work, and seek to recover costs from the original lawn treatment man in court if necessary.

Can you claim extra for loss of enjoyment of your garden? You can try, but the courts in England and Wales are notoriously ungenerous here. They prefer awarding damages for definite figures, so it is better to try and rebuild your patio and replace your prize dahlias, and claim for that. 

QualitySolicitors are a national network of law firms with over 100 offices across the UK.  During this (hopefully) long hot summer, a series of scenarios will be posted on QualitySolicitors.com, illustrating the Law of Summer, including:

  • Your neighbours party outside in their back garden until 3am, again. What should you do? 
  • What does your contract with the deck chair attendant entitle you to if the chair collapses underneath you?
  • Your barbecue poisons your guests. Are you liable?
  • How delayed does your holiday flight have to be before you are entitled to any compensation?
  • How much does flesh does your bikini have to cover for it not to be considered an affront to public decency?
  • It’s an August heatwave and while many of your colleagues are on holiday, you’re stuck in a sweltering office.  How hot is too hot?
  • Suit and tie, or crop top and skimpy shorts. Can the boss enforce a dress code?

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