Owners of uninsured businesses damaged in the London riots could be eligible for compensation from the police, according to an ancient law.
Barrister Daniel Barnett has highlighted the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 which applies to any "house, shop or building" which has been damaged, or had its contents damaged, by "any persons riotously and tumultuously assembled together".
Barnett said the police are required to pay compensation to any person who has suffered losses as a result, including those who have had property stolen.
A claim must be made to the police force within 14 days, so it is important that all business owners act promptly. A special form must be used, evidence of losses must be supplied, and the person claiming is usually required to swear on oath that their claim is genuine.
Compensation can be reduced if the property owner failed to take reasonable care, for example, if they left their premises unlocked.
Insured businesses should note that their insurers can also recover losses from the police, provided the police are notified within 14 days. For this reason, most insurance policies which cover damage by riot require that the insurance company be notified of the claim within seven days, giving the insurance company another seven days to notify the police.
If the business fails to lodge an insurance claim within this period, they will probably lose the right to claim.
By Neil Gerrard
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