THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES FROM RALLI SOLICITORS LLP ON CWI CLAIMS AND THE INDUSTRY WHICH STANDS ACCUSED OF CAUSING MISERY TO THOUSANDS OF PROPERTY OWNERS AND TENANTS.
No2. What they don’t tell you and some telling questions to ask your supposed saviours.
It all looked very simple at the outset. Europe thought of it, Britain adopted it. If energy companies could show that energy was being saved they could have a credit for the energy saving against the tax they had to pay in the form of a carbon credits. The energy companies were given money to allocate which they did and work was subcontracted down the line.
Consumers received telephone calls, letters, knocks on the door and all manner of literature and promises – cold callers, warm leads, hot prospects, and of course lots of money circulated around a whole industry which was born and grew and grew.
Many limited companies (now unfortunately defunct) sprung up and existing companies expanded their offering. A pathetic attempt at some kind of supervision supposedly took place but the net result was that inept individuals started filling cavity walls as fast as they could, not even stopping to feed their horse or polish their saddles Yi hah ! Often there was the added bonus of also selling useless loft insulation. Enthusiastic promises filled the land. Honest and decent people paid over money. Many or probably most of them had no idea of the reality.
- How many knew that what they thought of as a grant was actually a loan repayable by a loading on their energy bills going forward?
- How many purchasers realised when they bought their new home that their energy bills were being loaded and would continue to be if they didn’t challenge them within 90 days? And of these how many solicitors have let down their clients by failing to take issue with the billing when doing the conveyancing work on the purchase?
- How many people realised that it would take decades to make a saving on their energy bills?
- How many were even told that their properties were totally unsuitable for cavity wall insulation because of exposure to driving rain high winds and storms prevalent in the area? Who actually read the CIGA guarantee handed to them and realised the limitations of pursuing remedies under that guarantee?
Misery of course followed especially in coastal areas. Companies went into liquidation or administration and remedies were not easily available. Complex and expensive legal procedures way, beyond the means of most victims were required to pursue defunct companies and their directors, with no guarantee of ever getting compensation. Yet another example, of the ordinary public being unable to access justice!
Knights in Shining Armour
What happened next truly beggars belief. Many of the very people who had caused the misery by doing botched jobs returned In the guise of new companies and offered to extract the bad cavity wall insulation and put things right. Had members of the public really known the track record of those behind these companies they would have had nothing to do with them – but they did not know with whom they were dealing.
A quick survey would be prepared by one of the company’s experts i.e. one of the people who had initially been putting in defective cavity wall insulation. He would probably fail to assess the full extent of damage caused to the property but would merely reach the conclusion that the cavity wall insulation was inadequate and needed removing. No surprise that it would then need redoing using their expertise!
There are examples of companies having a number of attempts just to extract the cavity wall insulation work. But of course what is missing is a proper investigation as to the full effect of the damp e.g. to wooden joists beneath the floor and an accurate assessment of any other potential causes of the problems encountered in the house. Other reasons are what are highlighted in report after report produced by the ‘experts’ instructed by CIGA when a claim is made under the guarantee, – typically failures to point brickwork or replace/repair damaged window frames. CIGA claim to have improved. Many wait with bated breath to see what will get better now in practical terms.
The next manoeuvre might well impress you as to the sheer ingenuity of certain individuals concerned in the industry. The estimate prepared for extracting the cavity wall insulation is retitled ’a report’ and armed with this ‘report’ a plethora of new claims management companies have emerged. An ‘expert’s survey report” which bears a remarkable similarity to the initial estimate and first ‘report’, now becomes the basis upon which our ‘experts’ and their new friends seek to sell claims to 3rd parties, usually lawyers but not necessarily so. Having charged the owner for a ‘report’, which to ordinary people amounts to no more than the ‘ estimate’ with padding , they then seek to charge again for time and work involved in supporting the claim with their ‘report’.
Many of the reports are hopelessly inadequate but lawyers new to the industry would not necessarily realise that. Whatever endorsement appears on the report the courts are unlikely to rely on it because the courts will want an independent report and these reports are hardly independent.
There is the of course that guarantee from CIGA. The public may well be very surprised to realise that CIGA is a company limited by guarantee set up originally by the large players in the cavity wall insulation industry some of whom can still be contacted but only at the address of a liquidator or Receiver! The financial limitations within the guarantees are sometimes £10,000 sometime £15,000 and sometimes £20,000 but in the face of construction work, new carpets, decoration drying out premises hotel bills et cetera and of course legal costs there is unlikely to be enough money to put right the true extent of the damage plus award compensation for years of misery.
Whilst the various remedies have been tried by our cowboys, time has been running. Additional time will have been spent trying to get funding and what most people do not appreciate is that there is a six-year limitation upon making claims. Claims may be negligence or for breach of contract. The negligence claims there can be a three-year extension but that is only from a period when a reasonably alert person should have known that there was a problem caused by cavity wall insulation work and of course that awareness may well have been within the six year period. This area is complex and the domain of suitably experienced lawyers rather than cavity wall extractors and others trying to gather in and sell on claims.
Even more complicated is the area of directly trying to sue defunct company’s former insurers despite some new legislation at last coming into effect after years of waiting.
Everybody agrees that it is an awful situation but very few can or will do anything to remedy the problem and end the suffering of those living with it.
However where people can raise the funding or have insurance there are, buried in the mass of legislation some potential routes to remedying this dreadful situation.