Jennifer Watts from Adjust Solicitors explains how she plans to support skip hire companies from the constants and sometimes unnecessary haranguing from authorities like local councils and the environment agency. She just needs your help!
“We’re sure you’re all familiar with the problems encountered in securing payment for skips when the customer is absent at the time of delivery and the card machine is out of action. Thankfully most people are honest and will pay at some point, although this may involve a bit of chasing them up on the telephone and the odd customer trying to adopt the skip as a garden feature in order to avoid paying for a week or two, but what happens when the customer relocates and abandons your skip full of waste and leaves no forwarding address?
This is exactly the situation that one of our UKRoc (‘United Kingdom Resource Operators Consortium’) members found themselves in recently. The skip hire company in question used all of its possible resources to contact the customer in order to get payment for the 2 yard skip it had hired out. Nobody was in to pay on the drop and the telephone number provided kept ringing out. The company decided it had no alternative but to decant the waste from the skip that had been filled to the brim and leave it at the property of the elusive customer. Fair enough I think you would agree? Why should the skip company take waste that its customer had produced and not paid for and dispose of it at its own cost? Unfortunately the view formed by the Local Authority (“LA”) was just that.
The LA contacted the skip operator and informed it that it was responsible for the waste and should have taken the waste away and paid for the costs of disposal. The skip operator explained the circumstances to the LA and the fact that all reasonable steps had been taken to contact the customer and it was thought that she had moved from the address. The LA confirmed that the customer in question was a council tenant and that she had indeed relocated to another estate. The address could not be disclosed by the LA for data protection reasons so the skip operator offered to take the waste away if the LA agreed to pay for the disposal of the waste and then retrieved the payment from its tenant. This practical and sensible solution was not accepted by the LA.
The LA has now issued charges against the company for FLYTIPPING!!! Adjust Solicitors have been instructed to act on behalf of the company and a not guilty plea has been entered to the charge.
This is undoubtedly not the first time this sort of scenario has come before the Courts but in our view it is a matter that is of huge importance to the skip hire industry. If the LA should win its case it would mean that in practice the system leaves skip operators open to the abuse of unscrupulous individuals who, if they decide not to pay for their skip service, are able to flout their duty of care obligations and let the skip operator shoulder the burden of paying for the waste to be disposed of or alternatively face prosecution! The very fact that the Prosecuting Authority is aware of the customer’s whereabouts and has made no attempts to secure payment for the disposal of the material in order to come to an amicable solution fair to all parties leaves a particularly bitter taste in our mouths. Indeed the so-called customer has come out of the woodwork and is being called as a Prosecution witness. The public interest in prosecuting this case in the absence of exploring all possible options demonstrates the trigger happy attitude that a lot of public bodies have towards the industry. After all, we’re sure that the LA’s attitude would be very different if the individuals concerned had neglected to pay their council tax!”
UKRoc would really appreciate your support and related comments on this matter. Please fill in this form below: