Firms urged to keep records for water compensation

Businesses in Lancashire are being advised to keep detailed records of any costs incurred as a result of United Utilities’ boil water notice which is presently affecting the county.

Katie KozlowskaLegal experts at Lancashire law firm Harrison Drury say a failure to keep receipts and other details of increased expenditure will make it harder for businesses to seek enough compensation to cover their additional costs.

Around 300,000 households and businesses are affected by the boil water notice which has been in place since August 6 when traces of the cryptosporidium parasite were found at Franklaw water treatment works near Preston.

Katie Kozlowska, head of the Energy and Utilities team at Harrison Drury, said: “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 have had to purchase more bottled carbonated soft drinks, because they have been unable to use drinks dispensers attached to a mains water supply.

“Some may have suffered a loss of trade more generally if people are put off eating out because of fears they may consume contaminated water. Those that are boiling more water will undoubtedly have bigger electricity bills as a result.”

United Utilities has already said it will compensate homeowners and businesses affected by the boil water notice, but said businesses will have to evidence losses in order for it to assess claims for compensation, which it says will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Katie added: “Businesses will need detailed records of how they have been affected by the boil water notice. Practically speaking, this means keeping a log of all additional usage and costs, retaining copies of receipts, detailed orders and delivery records, and other relevant information. “Inevitably, there will be cases where businesses are unhappy with the level of compensation they are offered and this is where having detailed records will be invaluable, especially if the business chooses to seek legal advice on the issue.”