You and the Law – 14th June 2011

Hit on the head

I was shopping in a supermarket with my mother when a hanging sign fell on her head.  She had an x-ray the following day, and we are still waiting for the results, but all she got from the supermarket was a letter from head office saying how sorry they were.  I think we’ve been treated shabbily, and wonder what we should do next?  SM

If your mother had been seriously injured by the accident she would probably have had a good case for compensation from the supermarket.  I take it, however, that she has suffered no adverse effects and that the X-ray showed nothing untoward.  You could contact the council’s environmental health inspectors, who monitor retail premises, but I imagine the supermarket will have been up ladders checking all their signs before you had even left the store.  I’m surprised head office didn’t send you some goodwill vouchers, but they were under no obligation to do so.

Ignoring deeds

I live on a small housing estate built some 40 years ago.  The deeds state that properties are to be used as dwelling houses only.  Many people in these houses must be aware of this, yet are running businesses from home, employing not just themselves but other people as well.  Who is responsible for enforcing the terms of the deeds?  EW

You can attempt to enforce a restrictive covenant of this nature through the courts, but it can be an expensive and lengthy procedure and you would be recommended to take legal advice before going down this route.  The best option in your case may be to contact the council if the businesses are causing disruption on the estate.  If there’s a significant increase in noise and traffic the planning authority could serve an enforcement notice calling a halt to the business activities.

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