I read in last month’s press about a strange incident where there was a spillage of around a ton of chocolate on a road in Westönnen, Germany. A tank of chocolate in a factory spilled and poured into the street. It then solidified. It took 25 firefighters using shovels, hot water and blowtorches to clear it up. My mates and I were wondering what would be the case if we came off our bikes on something like this in the UK and needed to sue someone! Would we be able to do? This is perhaps a strange thing to ask but it did get us thinking!
Paul Green, Birmingham, by e-mail
A strange question indeed! You would need to seek compensation from the owner of the factory who should carry insurance covering third party liability. Presumably the spill was most likely due to poor maintenance or an employee forgetting to close the tap, leaving the factory liable to compensate. They may allege that the manufacturer of the tank is to blame for a defective product (if the tank was fairly new) and seek to bring them into the claim, or it may be that a visiting contractor did something that caused it. When writing a letter of claim to the factory owner you would ask for service/maintenance documents of the tank in the event the factory owner tried to blame someone else. The highways authority will be pleased to hear they would not be liable!