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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7430
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hello A few months ago our Bush washing machine electrical

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A few months ago our Bush washing machine electrical display panel exploded and almost burnt our rental property down.

Our landlord has agreed to fix the damages caused in the kitchen using his insurance company. Luckily my wife and four year old sun where at home at the time, my wife grabbed my son and our pet cat and ran outside and called the fire brigade who showed up in time to put the fire out.

As the washing machine is two years old and should not have exploded, using the London fire brigade report that states that the fire was not caused by an electrical fault in the house but indeed the washing machine we decided to take photos of the damage in the kitchen and the washing machine (which is now preserved outside) and pursue the matter further.

We have written a letter attaching the photos and receipts to Argos where we originally bought the washing machine asking for compensation for the following,

1. Cost of the old machine
2. Cost of the new washing machine
3. Cost the excess on the landlords insurance policy to repair the damage in the kitchen
4. Cost of the fire brigade report
5. Cost of various personal belongings
6. Plus an amount for the trauma that this incident caused my wife and son.

My son is so scared of what happens that he doesn’t even want to go into the kitchen anymore and is very scared of load noises and has been having very bad nightmares since this happened.

Argos have acknowledged our report by responding via an adjuster yesterday. The adjuster wants to send a forensics expert to check the damage and after that the adjuster wants to talk to us about how much we want to claim in addition to the above for personal trauma.

I suppose my question is what are our rights and how much do you think we can claim for what this terrible incident has put my family through.

Many thanks

Thanks for your patience.

You actually already have a fairly firm grasp of the situation as to damages.

The situation is that this is a breach of contract in that the washing machines was clear not of satisfactory quality under s14(2) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, in that it should not be breaking down and causing the damage that it has.

It seems that Argos have accepted the position so it’s not likely to get contentious, unless they take a silly position as to quantum of damages.

The costs that you have listed are more or less the ones that you would be able to claim for. However, if they cover the cost of a new washing machine then they are not obligated to also refund you the cost of the old washing machine. This is because the principle that damages for breach of contract should aim to put the injured party in the position that they would not have been in were it not for the breach.

So, if they provide you with the money for a new washing machine you would be put back in the position of having a washing machine of satisfactory quality and therefore back in the position that you would have been in were it not for the fault.

2, 3, 4 & 5 are all claimable and you should be able to put figures on these fairly easily.

6 is more difficult. Generally, only nominal amounts are claimable in respect of distress from breach of contract because the damage must be “direct” and a lack of distress must be an inherent benefit of the product.. Therefore, you are likely to receive a sum fo approximately £250.00 for the distress of the incident, though you may care to start a little higher and see if you can negotiate on this

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Kind regards,

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