Kit Reviewer
Some of you may recall that I had a smock stolen from the cloakroom of an Officers' Mess recently. Anyway, having just received a letter from the MoD Plod telling me that their investigation (such as it was) is over - to no avail, I went to the Mess Manager and asked about the insurance liability of the Mess for theft of personal belongings. The Manager (with pretty poor grace) told me that the Mess had no liability and that I should claim on my own insurance. Now I do have kit insurance, and normally I would not have a problem with claiming on it, but I feel that the Mess, which is run by a private company (happily making money from the taxpayer and Mess members), should have liability for the theft as I left the smock in the room appointed for coats and there was no sign informing me that it was there at my own risk. I know that I can be accused of being stroppy, but do I have a leg to stand on?
This is interesting. It is a basic tenet of insurance law that the insured should take 'reasonable care' of insured property. In this case you have done what you have usually done, what everyone else does, and indeed what you are required to do - leave your smock in the cloakroom - you have therefore demonstrated reasonable care. Even if the contractor had a sign stating that they have no liability, it doesn't absolve them of responsibility, if they can be shown to be negligent. As the Mess requires you not to wear your smock in public rooms, and to leave it in the cloakroom, it follows that you should have a reasonable expectation of it being safe, and that is a matter for the contractors running the Mess.

You could write formally to the Mess manager telling him you intend to claim for the cost of replacing your smock, as they were negligent in failing to ensure the proper security of kit placed in their care. Give him 7 days to respond with a cheque or details of their insurers.

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