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My policies!

Owners of property are generally aware of the need to take out insurance policies against loss or damage to the property. It is foolish to think, for instance, that if something falls from the sky onto a building, a viable claim in negligence will subsist against some person to pay for the damage caused to the building. Furthermore, as a practical matter, it is foolish to think that even if such a claim were to validly subsist, that that would be easily converted into the full recovery of that compensation.

See Dempsey & Anor -v- Waterford Corporation [2008] IEHC for a lesson on this. The Plaintiffs were owners of a premises in Waterford. One fine day their lovely parquet floor buckled under the effects of a leak of sewerage into the building and under the floor. The sewerage had come from an ancient culvert running under the building. That culvert in turn entered another culvert running down beneath the public street outside the Plaintiff’s building. Something down the end of the street culvert had caused it to become blocked and the sewerage had backed up into the Plaintiff’s premises.

The Defendant corporation had recently renewed the sewerage in the city. It had no knowledge of the culverts and did not connect them to the new system. The Plaintiff contended that this was negligence on the part of the corporation and/or it was nuisance. (The culverts were on no maps available to the corporation; the Plaintiffs, too, had not known of the culvert under their building).

The Court disagreed. It found no evidence of negligence and no evidence that the corporation caused the nuisance and, therefore, in the absence of negligence the nuisance claim also failed.