Devon County Council (14 019 620)

Category : Transport and highways > Highway repair and maintenance

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Mar 2015

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs C’s complaint about the delay before her claim for damages was agreed. This is because I have not seen any fault in how the Council dealt with the claim.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs C, complains about the delay in her insurance claim being settled.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints of injustice caused by maladministration and service failure. I have used the word fault to refer to these. The Ombudsman cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. She must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Mrs C provided when she spoke to our Intake Team to make the complaint. The Council sent me information about how it had handled the claim. I have also discussed the complaint with Mrs C.

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What I found

  1. After work carried out by the Council’s contractors in late 2013, Mrs C’s property suffered water damage as the pipe leading from her guttering had been blocked by the contractors.
  2. In February 2014 Mrs C sent a claim to the Council. In April 2014 the Council passed the claim to the third party who had done the work, with evidence the third party were responsible. The Council did not receive a reply and chased the contractors up in June.
  3. Mrs C contacted the Council in July to say she had still not heard anything. The Council gave her the contractor’s contact details. In August the contractor told Mrs C it was not responsible. In response to this the Council immediately sent further evidence to the contactor.
  4. In November Mrs C told the Council she had heard nothing; the Council again chased the contractors for a response. In January 2015 the Council again sent all the information it had to the contractor’s legal representatives. In March Mrs C’s son told the Council his mother had still not heard anything. The Council contacted the contractor’s legal representative and in mid March they agreed to settle Mrs C’s claim.
  5. I cannot say the Council was at fault. It chased the contractor up when Mrs C told it she had heard nothing. I cannot hold the Council responsible for the regrettable delays caused by a third party.

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Final decision

  1. I am not investigating Mrs C’s complaint about delay in dealing with an insurance claim as the Council has acted appropriately by chasing up the third party responsible once it was aware of any delay.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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