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Judgment - Paula Johnson (Claimant) and Chris Farr t/a Southern Stoves (Defendant), Case F40YJ087

Posted on Tuesday, 5 January 2021

In a judgment handed down in the County Court at Luton on 25 November 2020, the judge praised John Fuller (Burgoynes’ Basingstoke office) as an “..impressive, consistent and convincing witness…who had considered the evidence carefully.”  The case involved a chimney fire in a twin-wall flue and the judge preferred and accepted John’s evidence that the flue had been installed too close to a rafter, which was subsequently ignited by heat conducting through the flue from the chimney fire.  The flue was found to be 15mm from the rafter after the fire.  To comply with the manufacturer’s instructions and Approved Document J to the Building Regulations, a minimum separation of 50mm from the twin-wall flue to any unprotected combustible materials was required.  The judge rejected the view of the Defendant’s investigator that the Fire Brigade had moved the flue closer to the rafter after the fire and that the fire was caused by vegetation that had grown next to the flue.

The judge found that there was a breach of the Building Regulations and Approved Document J in the flue being installed too close to the rafter.  It was also found that there was a failure to comply with HETAS guidance and a breach of the duty to carry out the works with reasonable care and skill.   As a result, judgment was entered for the Claimant.