Sewage: If your property has been damaged by sewage you may be entitled to compensation to make good the damage or harm caused.
This would be through a claim against the Director General of Water Services because the water company responsible were negligent by failing to provide and maintain effective drainage. By not maintaining the drains resulting in overflowing sewage they fail in their legal duty of care to the people affected.
Poor water quality: The water company is responsible for the supply of water (up to the point that it connects with your pipes). If you or a visitor to your home becomes ill due to poor water quality being supplied, you should be entitled to compensation.
This is usually a claim that the water company were negligent in failing to supply water of a reasonable quality – implying they should know that people drinking it might become ill.
Flooding: Where a water authority is responsible for flooding to your home, you might be entitled to compensation.
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights gives individuals a right to respect for private and family life. It has been held that these rights were breached by a water authority where it was shown that they failed to take appropriate steps to prevent flooding to someone’s home. The English and Welsh courts have to follow these principles.
Proper water supply and drainage: Where you are a customer of a water company you have a contract with them. In exchange for you paying their charges they must provide a reasonable service. If the service is not reasonable (for example not maintaining the drains or not supplying good quality water) they have breached the terms of the contract. You have the right to demand it be put right and that they pay compensation for your losses and expenses.
What do you have to prove to bring a claim?
1: What damage or harm you have suffered:
This is best shown with photos and a detailed explanation (with relevant dates).
Perhaps also collect statements (letters or emails) from other neighbours further providing details of the problems such as overflowing sewage.
Sometimes it will not be possible to say what they have done wrong, Iin which case you can argue that the damage would not have happened ‘but for’ the water company failing to meet it's standards and their duty of care owed to you
Sometimes you will have to spend some money on getting an expert's report to confirm it was the water company’s fault, such as an independent test on the quality of the water supply.
Photos may also support your claim - such as photos of blocked mains drains
3: If you have suffered losses and expenses you will need to show they were caused by the water company and that the amount you are claiming back is reasonable:
What is the deadline for starting a claim at court?
The rules here are very complicated, and you should take advice as soon as possible as to how they apply to your particular circumstances. But the deadlines are generally:
Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. As part of our commitment to serving you better, we highly recommend utilising the resources available at the Money Advice Service website. Their comprehensive guides and information cover various aspects of financial and legal matters, including small claims advice and may be able to give you the support you need.