A fancy restaurant gave me food poisoning: am I entitled to compensation? Consumer rights attorney DEAN DUNHAM responds


I got food poisoning when my wife and I went to dinner for my birthday at an expensive restaurant in London. I was really sick later that night – my wife not so much – and we think it was from a seafood platter we shared.

My wife paid by credit card. Can we get our money back? HV, by email.

The couple ate a seafood platter at a swanky central London spot – and one of them fell seriously ill.

The couple ate a seafood platter at a swanky central London spot – and one of them fell seriously ill.

Consumer rights lawyer Dean Dunham responds: Yes, you can get your money back. You may also be able to seek compensation, depending on the severity of the food poisoning and the effect it had on you.

The first step is to file a complaint directly with the restaurant, outlining all relevant details. Include the date you went to dinner, what name the reservation was under, what you ordered, and what you think gave you food poisoning.

You should also let the restaurant know when you started feeling unwell, what the symptoms were, and how long they lasted.

In your letter, explain that you have identified the cause of the food poisoning as the seafood platter and that this is a violation of the Consumer Rights Act, which states that services ( such as food preparation) must be carried out with reasonable care and skill.

This means that you are entitled to a remedy which, in this case, is a full refund. There is also a second law that helps you here, called The Consumer Protection Act 1987. Simply put, this law requires a food retailer to sell a product that is free from harmful bacteria, that is if you are able to prove that your food poisoning was caused by the restaurant then the law provides that they will be held responsible for your illness.

Additionally, this law does not require it to be proven that a staff member (usually the chef) was negligent, only that the cause of the food poisoning was due to unsafe food provided by the restaurant. This is called “strict liability”, and a trader does not want to be left on the receiving end of a claim with strict liability.

It is advisable to obtain a medical certificate detailing the symptoms to support your claim.

It is advisable to obtain a medical certificate detailing the symptoms to support your claim.

If you wish to claim compensation as well as reimbursement, it would be best to have proof of how you have been affected, such as a letter from your GP practice if you have seen a GP. Additionally, if you missed work because of this, or if it caused you any other inconvenience, you need to obtain evidence to prove it. You will then seek compensation for “pain and suffering” and any losses you have suffered as a result.

Usually, restaurants take these claims seriously, especially if you say you will consult a personal injury attorney if a satisfactory offer is not made. In this regard, if the restaurant initially only offers you a refund, be sure to indicate that you do not accept this as compensation, otherwise the restaurant may say that you have “settled” the affair.

Unless you suffer from a prolonged illness, compensation is unlikely to be significant.

You should also alert your local environmental health department, which will investigate whether the restaurant has violated the Food Safety Act of 1990.

I am the second owner of my “new car”

I bought a new car and when the logbook arrived I discovered I was the second owner. The dealer told me this is a brand new car, what can I do?

Leatherhead, Surrey, New Brunswick.

Consumer rights lawyer Dean Dunham responds: It appears that either the dealer has pre-registered the car in their own name, or the car has already been sold and the buyer has rejected it and returned it, perhaps under their “right of “short-term rejection” because there was a problem with it.

Regardless of the circumstances, as a potential buyer, you had the right to know all the facts and this “important” information should have been shared with you before you agreed to purchase the vehicle. One of the effects of having an additional owner on the car is that it can impact its future value.

Your next step is to complain in writing to the dealership about a breach of the Consumer Rights Act, which states that goods (including cars) must be ‘as described’.

The remedy here will be for the dealer to refund you a sum of money to reflect the decrease in the value of the vehicle (you can negotiate) or to repossess the car and give you a full refund.

The amount that the dealer deducts from the price of a car is generally linked to the miles driven by the consumer. So if the previous owner had driven ten miles, you wouldn’t expect to get any money cut. But if it was hundreds of miles you’d expect something in the region of £500. This must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If the dealership refuses your claim and won’t tell you who the first owner was, complete and lodge a DVLA form V888. This is the form used to request information about a vehicle and its past and present registered keepers.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will want you to have a good reason for making the application, and will say that you are mounting legal action against a car dealer. Armed with this information, you can file a Section 75 claim if you paid for all or part with a credit card, citing that the dealership is in breach of contract.

You can also make a Section 75 claim if you paid via a fixed amount loan agreement, or you can make a claim in the County Court (in the small claims route, known as small claims court, if the car was purchased). for less than £10,000), or in full county court if the purchase price was more than that amount.

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