AUSTIN LAFFERTY - Laying Down The Law

Q I PUT my car into a garage last year to get a repair done and picked the car up later that day.

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A couple of days later my insurance firm called asking if I had been in a bump, which I denied. I have since heard someone in the garage may have been out in my car on the day, but I can't prove this – and the garage has now changed hands.

I am being pursued for monies. What can I do?

AYOU can certainly defend the case, and if the court believes your evidence then that would be an end of it. As long as you have made a full disclosure to your insurer (i.e. you were not driving) then it should cover you.

Get as much evidence as you can, including garage invoice for work done and statements from family, work colleagues and friends to confirm the car went in and you were not in it. It might also be best to see a solicitor.

Q WE took out an endowment policy to cover mortgage and were told by a financial adviser it would definitely pay off the loan. It didn't.

We were put in touch with this adviser via our solicitors, who were dealing with the house purchase.

We found out recently commission was paid to the solicitors and not the adviser. The name of the adviser is not on the form.

The solicitors say they destroy anything to do with conveyancing, etc, after 10 years and are unable to tell us the name of the adviser.

A The crucial question is when you became aware the policy might not pay out.

There are time limits that affect this – if you wait too long your claim is time-barred.

Assuming it is not, what you need to show is not just that there is a shortfall, but you were not properly advised of the risk.

I suggest you approach the ombudsman at: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

Regarding the rule for solicitors' files, mostly they can be destroyed after 10 years, unless there is a specific reason to keep them.

Q MY aunt slipped on an untreated, icy pavement and broke some ribs. Is she entitled to compensation, and, if so, is there anyone she should turn to in the first instance?

AIF it is a public footpath, and council's negligence and failure to maintain according to their duty has caused your neighbour injury, then compensation will be due.

However, the council is not legally expected to grit every road and salt every pavement immediately after snow and ice appears.

The questions will be whether the council has a plan and policy to check walking surfaces, whether it implemented that policy properly, and/or if that particular area's surface was reported to it as dangerous, did it respond adequately?

Also, there is a corresponding duty on those walking to take particular care in icy conditions.

As for where to turn – see a solicitor for a first free interview to establish if you have a claim.

Finance

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