Domestic Bonfire Sparked £200,000 Damages Claim

The dangers of being unprepared for the possible consequences of something as seemingly innocuous as a garden bonfire were brought home by a case which ended up in the Court of Appeal.

The Court has exonerated a businessman who was sued for more than £200,000 by an angry neighbour after her house went up in flames soon after he had burned personal papers in an alleyway between the two properties.

The fire was claimed to have caused extensive damage to the neighbour's home and she and her family had to move out for eight months whilst repairs were carried out. She claimed that a stray ember from the businessman's bonfire had caused the blaze and launched a compensation claim against him, accusing him of negligence.

However, in dismissing her appeal against an earlier decision in the businessman's favour, the Court found that she had failed to prove that there was any causal link between the 'small and controlled' bonfire and the house blaze. The businessman had taken the utmost care in keeping watch over the bonfire before extinguishing it with his garden hose. He had not been negligent.

In this case the bonfire was well controlled and had been watched over by the man. These facts made it impossible for his neighbour to prove that he had been responsible for the fire. In the absence of proof to a reasonable standard that he had been negligent, the Court could not find him responsible.

For advice on dealing with any dispute with a neighbour, contact us.
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