Q. I am an IT Engineer and often spend considerable amounts of time away from home with work. I was recently staying in a hotel and when I returned to my ground floor room from my evening meal I found various items of my expensive computer equipment water damaged as the result of a flood. The equipment is completely ruined. I have spoken to the hotel owners who have informed me they are not accepting any liability for the damage. Is their stance correct?
A. Whether or not the hotel should bear any liability for the damage to your property very much depends on the cause of the flood. If the damage was caused by an act of negligence on your part or by an 'Act of God', e.g flooding as a result of a storm, it is likely that the hotel would not be liable for the damage. If on the other hand the hotel’s negligence was to blame for the damage to your property then there is a chance that they may be fully liable for it.
Where the damage caused does not fit into either of the above categories and is subject to certain signage being displayed in the hotel (e.g. signage stating they do not accept responsibility for property left unattended), the hotel may be able to limit their liability to £100 per guest, regardless of the value of the damage. This amount is set at £1,500 for hotels in London. This is under the Hotel Proprietors Act 1956.
You should also speak to your insurers to clarify if the damaged is covered under one of your or your works’ policies. A civil litigation specialist can advise you in order to help put your case forward regarding the position on liability.